REFLECTIONS OF A LIFELONG TRAINER
In YL we train on everything! From our personal spiritual life to direct ministry skills. From fundraising to developing a team. We are all students for life. I have always fostered a teachable posture, but for much of my career I have been grateful to have the carried the label of ‘trainer.’
One of the earliest training recollections I have is a story I heard from one of my ‘heroes’ in the mission, Chuck Reinhold. He shared about one of his fraternity brothers in college. Chuck said that his friend could have run a much better club than he could. His friend was funny, a musician, and had a winsome presence. He would have been a pied piper for teenagers with one exception: he didn’t know Jesus. Chuck’s friend had no desire to know or follow Jesus. I learned early on that as important as our ability to entertain and draw people together there are some things far more important.
I love that our mission places a high value on three things:
My journey with Young Life started with examples of men and women who lived out of a vibrant faith. These men and women were my examples. At an early stage in my faith formation I gained an image of what it looks like to follow Jesus. They taught and modeled that ministry is much more than a place to contribute to God’s kingdom, as important as this is. They kept reminding me that ministry is a work of heart and that it’s the potter’s wheel on which the Lord will shape me. Over the past few decades, I have been molded, refined, and shaped into a different person because of Christ, family, friends, and my experience in ministry through YL.
I once was interviewing a prospective staff associate. As part of the process we spent the day together. He watched me deal with one fire after another—an upset parent, a slacking volunteer leader, issues surrounding our golf tournament, and a finance committee meeting.
At the end of a day of him watching me navigate one crisis after another he said, “If being on staff means I have to live like that I’m not sure I can do it.” This got me thinking: do the people around me see me as miserable, unhappy, joyless, stressed, and over-committed or do they see me as someone who joyfully loves his Lord, is faithful to his call and energized by the things he experiences as he follows Jesus? Or put differently, would I want others to look like me as they walk with their Lord?
I’ve learned that out of the abundance of my heart my mouth speaks. My words and self-talk give me a clue to the state of my heart. Understanding my godly character and relational intelligence begins here. Thankfully, it didn’t take me 45 years to realize the critical nature of these things in a life of a believer and missionary, but I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t reminded of them every day.
After years of training, what I have learned is that ministry comes down to deeply knowing Jesus, and being an example that others will follow. The rest will sort itself out.
Written by Ray Donatucci