Tomorrow, our church is holding an event for, but not limited to, youth. We invited other churches in our district to come (and people in our community) to join us in night of praise and worship. We decided to call the event OBOC (One Body of Christ), borrowing the name from a couple of youth from Hawaii.
Throughout the last two weeks, I’ve been struggling with the word ‘success.’
What would make this event a success? And normally, (and I credit my youth ministry professor in Seminary and Doug Fields books), success for me was that people had a geniune worship experience. That kids came, was able to worship, and leave the event closer to God. And it was our jobs as small group leaders and youth pastors to help our own youth continue that movement towards God. Otherwise, they’ll just be “getting saved” at every single event.
Anyway, because something like this has never been done at my church, I see myself playing the numbers game. And I had to honestly admit to myself that if only a handful kids showed up, I would be disappointed. So then the question to ask is, why? Why would I be disappointed? And thankfully, I couldn’t come up with an answer, except, maybe it’ll make look bad, as in I failed.
So here I am. Preparing this event. I’m picking out the songs and writing the sermon for the night. Here I am, hoping that this event will connect the youth to one another; to help them realize we are not alone and that we share the same joys and struggles and are able to help one another; to show them that though we act different, we think different, we look different, we hang out in different groups, we still are one because of our God, that we are one body of Christ. Here I am doing all this, and I have made it about myself.
What if this event is a failure? What if no one shows up?
By asking these questions, I realized there was even a scarier question: What if it is a success?
Why is that a scary question? Well, by asking the ‘what if I fail’ question, I already felt that my motives were slightly unholy, and about me. Going into the event with that attitude, and the event is a success, I’m scared that I’ll start thinking, I’m a success. I made this event happen. I planned it, I prepared for it, I preached at it and it was a success. I’m a success!
And that’s scarier to me than failure. Well, that’s a bigger failure.
So the past two weeks, my prayer has changed.
God’s will. God’s time. I did all my part. The rest is for God to do. And I find comfort in that. I don’t have to worry about things that I don’t need to worry about.
Right now, I’m focused on my message rather than on how many kids may show up. There’s freedom in that.
If 5 students show up. Thanks be to God! And we know that God’s presence will be among us and within us, for where two or more gather…
And if a lot of students show up, Thanks be to God! Because it was God’s doing and none of my planning and nothing that I did.
There’s a whole lot of freedom and I guess, a stronger sense of faith, when I begin to take the focus off of me (where it never belongs) and make it all about God (as it always should be).
One thought on “OBOC (and Failure vs. Success)”
This is a lot of what I have been praying about/struggling with lately. It can be tricky to navigate the desire to to reach people and touch as many as possible out of faithfulness to God’s call with the success/failure pressures that are out there. They can go dangerously hand in hand but you are right in that it is a disaster to get them confused. God has been leading me to take some drastic steps not to get in that successful trap lately…. glad to know I am not alone in that journey to not be successful but faithful.