By Andrew Osborne and Hannah Iverson
As a youth leader at St. Luke Lutheran Church, one of my biggest tasks is to help students understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus and how that plays out in their everyday lives. Scripture gives a pretty clear understanding of what a follower of Jesus should look like.
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” It’s a verse that many of us have heard and some of us can probably recite it, backward and forward, but we sometimes overlook what that looks like for us from day to day.
At this years senior high winter lock-in at University Lutheran Chapel the goal was to walk students through what it looks like to live out their faith the way scripture calls us to and to show students how the habits they create now, both good and bad, are shaping them into the person they become in adulthood.
There were three sessions on this topic; vocation, character, and relationships. Hannah Iverson, a high school sophomore at St. Luke Lutheran Church, was one of the students who attended the lock-in this year.
Here is an overview of what Hannah took away from each session at this years lock-in:
On the first Friday of December, the Senior High youth group of the St. Luke multi-site joined together for a night of fun and fellowship at the University Lutheran Chapel, for the annual lock-in event. The topic for the night greatly touched on a subject that we all are beginning to encounter in our lives: the future. We, as young men and women of God, are faced with the tough tasks of discovering ourselves, while realizing our callings in life given to us through Jesus Christ, and maintaining our relationships with others as well as Him.
Our first activity for the night was a scavenger hunt that involved the youth splitting up into three groups with the leaders and venturing out into the downtown area of Ann Arbor. Our tasks were to talk to the people of the city about their careers in life, majors, minors, and dream jobs.
We, as young men and women of God, are faced with the tough tasks of discovering ourselves, while realizing our callings in life given to us through Jesus Christ, and maintaining our relationships with others as well as Him.
Now, although this activity was fun, as well as a little uncomfortable for some, it really opens my eyes to the many paths that can be taken through life. This hunt ties closely in with the first topic of our night: vocation. What is God calling us to do?
This is a question that most people struggle with at some point in their lifetime. There is a choice that we all are going to make when we enter the realms of adulthood about what we want to be and how that ties in with what God wants us to be. For some this may be quite simple but for others it isn’t. I am one of those people for whom it isn’t obvious.
I know I am part of a future with Jesus but knowing what my calling is has not been easy. As a high school student I often find myself busy with school, sports, and loads of homework. So busy in fact, that I find myself concentrating on MY plan for the future instead of Gods and centering my day around the necessary school work of the day and the plans leading to a future of my ideas.
There are also those times when my stress levels become so high that I get angry with God. I can’t hear what He wants me to do. I can’t hear His calling for me. However, during this time of our lives it is important, for not only the group of senior high present at the lock-in, but the whole church community to fix our eyes on Him as we listen for His calling for each of us.
What is God calling us to do?
After much laughter and some treats in the Common Cup Coffee House, the senior high once again met for our next topic of discussion: character. How are we an example of who God wants us to be? The activity in this was identifying two characters from a popular film, one good and one bad, and discuss what made them who they are. As an example, my group chose the popular young adult film The Hunger Games.
Our character that we identified as a good character was Katniss Everdeen. What made her good was her strong will, determination and courage while facing the torments of the games themselves, whereas President Snow, the antagonist to Katniss, shows characteristics of evil, self love, arrogance and so forth.
After sharing aloud about characters, we brought it back to us. How does our character display how God wants us to live? In Galatians 5:13-23 it talks about living by the Spirit. We as humans are called to be free through Christ, however, often times, as a sinful human, I know I can get off track.
I live for myself instead of for others or for God. I am selfish, I find myself hating as well as being jealous. The Lord calls us to live by the fruits of the Spirit which we know to be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. As a high school student I am often faced with problems of wanting to fit in.
I find myself thinking that if I change who I am I can become what someone else wants me to be instead of what God wants me to be. The study helped to remind me to remain faithful to Christ and also to myself and my beliefs.
We were finally asked at the end of the session to set some goals for ourselves write them down on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope. It gave us some time to really reflect on who we are now versus what we want to be.
How are we an example of who God wants us to be?
After a very fun filled night featuring minimal hours of sleep the final session of the lock-in took place Saturday morning as the parents came to pick us up. The parents and family members were taken to a separate room while the students gathered to talk about relationships. With this session I didn’t really know what to expect especially when our activity started. Once again we were divided into groups to play a game.
One person from each group was given an image that he or she had to explain to the rest of the group so that they could draw the picture to make it look as identical as possible. Though this wasn’t very hard, the person describing really had to communicate to the groups about what the shapes were. This brings us to the topic: relationships. How does God want us to interact with each other? How does he want us to be in a relationship with him?
In each relationship especially with those we hold most dear, we can agree that communication is very important. Knowing from experience, my parents always ask me questions when I get home from school. For example: “How was your day?” “What did you do?” “How are you?”
I’m sure most people are familiar with these classic, annoying parent questions. Sometimes it gets to be too much for us and we get annoyed. “Yes, Mom, it was fine.” “I’m fine.” “We didn’t really do much.” are just some examples of the typical teenage answers given to parents.
However, what we don’t take into consideration is that our parents are genuinely interested in what we do. They want to have a good relationship with us and the way to do so is through communication. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is very similar to the one we share with our parents.
Our heavenly father loves hearing what we have to say. He loves hearing about our struggles, worries, fears, even greatest joys. It is important for us as the body of Christ to remain in constant communication with him because he loves us and wants to hear what we have to say.
How does God want us to interact with each other? How does he want us to be in a relationship with him?
The lock in eased some of my concerns that I brought with me going in on Friday night. It was a special time to spend with church family. I learned a lot and the lessons brought this new enthusiasm to my life with Christ as I head to my future as a woman of God.
His calling for me may not be easy to hear right now but I know he has something amazing planned for me. Through my time in high school as I am carried down the path that he has set out for me, I need to remain faithful to who he wants me to be and not who others want me to be. Finally, I need to keep in constant communication with him because he loves me.