A NightLight – Of Crushed Spirits and Wine: Being a Relational Youth Leader
The following is a two-part post from Melissa at One Thing. I love reading her honest heart on being a youth leader. Come back tomorrow for Part 2.
I completed my tenth year of care group leading in June. A decade of letting the Lord turn my crushed spirit into wine. I learned over that time that sometimes it is the only way to “pour your life” into another. To beat the pulp out of it…
When I started being a care group leader all I knew was that I loved my youth group, and that I wanted them to come to know Jesus truer and more authentically than I did when I was a teenager. I knew I longed to protect them from the cost of sin. I dreamt of inspiring them to fight the good fight with reckless abandon, of becoming a group of women so strong and powerful, that the tools Satan usually uses on young women would fall flat at their feet.
I just didn’t know that loving kids like that would have such a great cost. I didn’t remember that you cannot lead someone where you have not been, and that in this fallen world those tools are still wounding me.
I also forgot that it isn’t really about me…that Jesus would take my imperfect crushed grape life and turn it into wine for his glory. I didn’t know that it would be a greater refining for me than for them. That my life would ferment at the same time as theirs.
When I was a little girl, my dad made wine. He would fill my kiddy pool with grapes and let me run around in it. Feeling the grapes squish through my toes was thrilling until I turned 8, and then it repulsed me. My aversion to dirty feet may well have started then. I don’t like getting dirty. My journey as a care group leader looked much the same. It was a fun, slightly messy diversion that became very hard when I realized my feet were stained dark red.
When I began leading the girls would often call me in tears, the melodrama of jr. high, so intense and crippling in their perfect little hearts. I felt like I could soothe them, support them and that my love would help them through the betrayal of gossiping friends, and their first soured love relationships. These things I almost enjoyed and felt like I could do well. I appeared strong and like I had some answers for them. The crushing of grapes was bearable, and I felt like I could help.
But then life hit. Real, messy lives intermingled and all of us realized I didn’t have the answers …