Thursday, August 09, 2007


The chapel messages each night of camp were about Nehemiah, and his leadership. Our theme was Tool Time, so we ran with the building connotations and settled on building the wall of Jerusalem. Those eligible for camp have generally a lot of Bible knowledge and are comparatively more mature than your average Christian teenager. We had as our object encouraging the deepening of their relationships with God and as always, training them to serve Him. So I guess the messages could apply to them. While I sat there, I was sure God was speaking directly to me.

Young, first time, typically timid counselor gets nightly pep talk from her Master. He takes her on different aspects of leadership from the fact that we’re all just servants, vessels for His use to the need for boldness. Nehemiah was a real man who exercised real leadership over real people in real situations. I forget sometimes that Bible heroes really are human. It was probably even harder for Nehemiah to ask for three years’ leave from his job than it would be for my dad. Think about it. Yet he prayed and then obeyed.

The counselors of the Varsity (High School) group were charged with overseeing the Varsity service project of the week: doing the chapel service the last night for the younger kids. This involved prayer, skits, service, worship, special music, testimonies, and interspersing themselves with the Junior Varsity to keep attention directed. Through the fault of camp leaders who “hang loose” and long-distance telephone static, I expected to be assigned a sphere of responsibility – or even assistance. Understand that I’m young for a high school counselor, got my application in late, and was chosen to be with the high school group only a few weeks before the camp. So I assumed most of the important jobs were already filled, and I would fill in where needed.

Enter application of Chapel messages on leadership. Some counselors knew their roles. Most of us were clueless. The leaders, as much wanting to form leaders out of their counselors as to leave the kids to take possession of their ministry, would not decide for us. One of the counselors took charge, temporarily exited the room (this was all happening under pressure; kids were waiting to be told what to do next), and came back with a list, assignments for each of us. We looked it over and all consented.

The responsibility I was allotted was to oversee testimonies. Two or three were expected to be presented as part of the service. I’d been on the team once when I was in high school; I write my own Sunday school lessons; and work with high school and junior high a lot, so I figured I could handle it. We had one volunteer. What’s more, he wanted to be part of the service team, too. So the first day I ran around with one of the leaders who said she wanted to be hands-off, and tried really hard, but succumbed to my lost smile and helped me to beg for more volunteers.

The second day I made a bit of progress by seeing an outline of the testimony. Yes, that took all of a minute or two. And I was delighted to learn we had one more volunteer, whose talk was as of yet completely unprepared, but he felt God wanted him to do it, so he was. I’m ok with that. I still had nothing to do. But I had a question: How much time can my charges talk? How much time do we have at all? Who is putting all these components together into one long service? Ok, so I had more than one question.

Depending on the person to whom I was inquiring, I used a different approach. Since I had nothing else to do, I set out to discover the answer. Starting with the nearest fellow counselor, I asked ultimately 4 people. The first person said the worship leader. So I went to ask him. He said it would probably be him, but no one had actually given him that job. The male head of the Varsity camp (one of the hands-off couple) said probably the counselors and graduated Varsity campers. His wife (the other hands-off person) said it was our job, that of the counselors.

Answers so often lead to more questions. Did anyone else know this? I suspected not. When would we decide? Where? How? And how would anyone find out we were supposed to be in charge? I dreaded the thought – sorry to admit it – of going to each person to ask them their opinion. I just don’t like stepping up to people and interrupting their important thoughts… Excuses, excuses.

Chapel service that night had me convinced. I needed to let the Nehemiah story go to my head and call a counselors meeting for the few minutes right after breakfast. Me? Leader? Tell all the other counselors what to do? But as it was God prompting and I could think not only of a plan, but of how to word the plan, I was determined.

And then I slept. And the next morning, I backed out. Resolve is so much stronger when immediate. Tired little me failed in her leadership task. But something still had to be done.

The next morning the hands-off leaders told all of the counselors at our morning meeting that we were in charge of ordering the service. So I was no longer the only one with the information. Still no word on how that was supposed to happen.

A few hours later I was talking to an old friend who was one of the Varsity counselors with me, and wondered when we should get together to make all these decisions. Through a mutual discussion, we settled on the same time I had originally imagined, only a day later. And we decided to spread the word. She took enough initiative to tell her color team co-counselor, and he told the announcement man at breakfast.

The meeting did take longer than I envisioned, but an hour later we’d all worked together to come up with a schedule. Back and forth, pros and cons, logistics and tone. All came together. And God was in charge of it all, carefully orchestrating everything, using us as His tools, His vessels, even though at times He seemed even more hands-off than our leaders.

To God be all glory.

No comments: