Recently our Sligo youth department leaders started a new devotional book on Sabbath mornings. Every Sabbath morning, we meet at 9:00 to have a team devotion time before we teach Sabbath school. After finishing The Purpose Driven Life, it was suggested we start a new book called "Growing young". One particular chapter that has stood out for me is that titled, "Unlock keychain Leadership". The chapter proposes that you take a moment to think about the first time you got a set of keys. Immediately I knew the set of keys that was the most important to me. These keys would change my life situation indefinitely - no more catching a bus, no more begging my parents for a ride and no more riding my bike. Of course, these keys where the keys to a car. A new and important responsibility was now placed in my hands. This new responsibility separated the boys from the men. Needless to say, I felt my importance level rise a little. The word responsible was used much more often to me, especially when the keys were placed in my hands. I now had to be responsible because I now had responsibility!
Moving the same concept into church leadership, the chapter suggests that we must prepare a young generation to be responsible. How do they become responsible? They do so by having been given responsibilities and by leaders' willingness to hand over the keys.
When I started driving I went to driving school; I completed my road hours and I completed the Maryland drivers test. However, without the keys to a car those things didn't mean anything. Someone had to give me the keys. My parents knew the risks that were associated with driving and had to pay a higher insurance but they still took the risk on me. Keys don't have to be a literal or tangible thing; they can be an opportunity
In 2004 I was 18 years old Sligo's youth pastor at the time, Terry Johnsson. created the concept of youth department leaders. He asked our young people to volunteer at a high level right out of high school. That year Pastor Terry took a risk on me by asking me to become a leader, a leader with responsibility. I accepted this leadership role and at the same time was wondering why me, because I felt I was the most unlikely person to be a good leader. I asked Pastor Terry years later, "Why did you pick me?" He said, "Yeah, you were the wild card, but I saw something in you." He took the time to mentor the wild card.
Working with the Sligo youth department for the last 13 years has put me in a position to now be a mentor to high school youth. After what was done for me I always have to ask myself and I implore you to now ask yourselves "What opportunity am I giving and what risk am I taking to potentially make a young person a leader and a leader for God?"