Today is our first Young Life club of the school year and the beginning of my second year as a Young Life leader. This start has unexpectedly brought me to a state of reflection for two reasons: it’s the senior year for my YL boys who I’ve been pouring into and I’m amazed at how much Young Life has become a part of my everyday life. When the Lord put it on my heart to serve Him through youth, choosing YL as that outlet was a no-brainer. I was a YL kid in high school, went to camp at Crooked Creek Ranch and I wanted to “pay-it-forward” by investing in kids the way my leaders poured into me. However, unbeknownst to me, the past year involved so many more complexities than I ever dreamed.
16-year-olds can teach you a lot about yourself. Going into my first year as a leader, my focus was solely on how I was going to connect with high school kids. I was like, “Yeah! The Lord is going to work through me to reach the hearts of Hillcrest High Schoolers!” My friends would tell me, “Devin, you’re going to be good for those kids to have as a mentor.” HA! Now don’t get me wrong, I hope those two things are very true, BUT I was even more blown away and overjoyed at how much of a good thing it’s been to have these kids in MY life. My guys have helped build up weak areas in my life like compassion, PATIENCE, transparency and selflessness, just to name a few. Not to mention my knowledge of the latest and greatest dance moves, slang and rap songs have sky rocketed, it’s been a blessing to see life through the eyes of a 16-year-old and have that insight reveal things about myself that I either ignored or was blind to before.
Small gestures are a big deal…I never knew that. A major part of being a YL leader is “contact work.” CW is all about quality time with kids–going to their Friday night football games, waking up at 7am to watch them in their district cross-country race or even bringing them to your house for a Saturday night of Monopoly and homemade milkshakes. Y’all wouldn’t believe how shocked they are that a “grown up” would WILLINGLY come to school to have lunch with them or watch them on the sidelines cheering at the football game. This made think that if high school kids see these so-called “small gestures” as big deals, I bet adults feel the same way! It definitely has me being more intentional with how I show love to my family and friends, and I see that helping a buddy move is a bigger deal than I might realize.
I sometimes forget they aren’t REALLY my kids. When my friends ask me what I’m doing on a Saturday and I reply, “I’m gonna pick up my kids and we’re gonna go play soccer in the park” they look at me with a confused face because last time they checked my Instagram, I didn’t have any kids, let alone of the high school persuasion. It sounds crazy, but that’s what happens when you’re a Young Life leader. You start caring for and about them as if they’re your offspring. From giving them dating advice, taking them shopping for school clothes, helping them get ready for prom and keeping tabs on their grades, I’ve developed a genuine desire to know the ins-and-outs of their lives. In a way, it’s preparing me for that long-way-away role of fatherhood by learning the confusing brain of a teenager.
As I begin my second year as Hillcrest Young Life leader, I’m looking forward to getting to know an entirely new set of kids, growing in my relationships with existing younglifers and allowing Christ to use me simply as a vessel to reach the hearts of youth in Dallas. Out of all the uncertainty that the year may bring, one thing I’m sure of is that I was made for this: