Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Epistle to Summer Staff

Note: I wrote this last year and sent it to many of the COCUSA Summer Staff.  I think it's worth posting here as an exhortation to anyone going through a life or ministry transition.

From Pheaney. To my fellow workers and disciples at Camp of Champions USA. As our summer has come to a close, I felt I needed to both encourage and challenge you.

I am totally impressed and enthralled when I think of the ministry you had this summer. Words cannot begin to describe the impact that you had on the lives of children. And you were changed too! I could see you growing to be more like Jesus throughout the summer. The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives is truly an amazing thing.

If we could put our summer's spiritual growth on a chart I truly think it would look something like the picture to the right. That is awesome! God often uses tough and stressful times to grow our relationship with Him. And I know that once the summer ends I hope that I will continue growing in the same way. (In fact, I expect to grow even more since I have more free time).

Please accept this warning!! Continued spiritual growth in the school year is NOT automatic. More often than not, once the summer ends I’ve seen our spiritual growth (yes me included!) look like this chart:

It’s sad but true, we usually do NOT use our spiritual growth from the summer to help us grow even further. We get complacent and lazy and our relationship with Christ worsens through the school year.

If you accept this warning in any way, you’ll want to avoid spiritual decline. Here’s my personal plan to do so, I hope it can encourage and challenge you.

Scripture (Psalms 119:11) You have been surrounded by God’s word all summer. Through morning devotions, Bible stories, and your own teaching to the campers in Good Morning and Cabin Times. To fight the decline, you’ll need to keep grounded in the word of God. Find a topic or portion of the Bible that excites you and DIG IN!

Service (James 2:14-17) One of the biggest triggers to growing more like Jesus is focusing on others. You have done that with excellence this summer! If you sit in your room playing video games, surfing Facebook, listening to music, etc; then your love for God and passion for serving will shrivel and die. If you want to fight the decline and continue growing more like Christ, you need to find specific areas to serve others. Get up and STAY IN THE GAME!

Friends (Proverbs 17:17) You will need others to fight this potential downward slope. Maybe it is another staff member, maybe a fellow disciple from somewhere else, but you must find someone. Have a conversation with them about where you are at spiritually and how you want to continue growing closer to Christ. If they are in the same place, start meeting regularly to sharpen each other. As one of my friends has said, “God has called you to a personal relationship with him, not a private one.” PARTNER UP!

As a group, you’ll be in my prayers this school year. And please let me know how I can pray for you specifically!

May God’s grace, peace, and power go before you.

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