I was up early, running through the woods around our neighborhood. I came to an area where there are a stand of trees on the right and left with an open field, maybe 20 yards across, in between them. I was running along the treeline with the field to my right, when suddenly I ran through a spiderweb. But not just any spider web.
This web stretched all the way across this field! I immediately thought to myself, “That is one ambitious spider!” But I kept running. I didn't think anything more of it. Until the next morning when the exact same thing happened again! Same spider web, same field.
I found my myself thinking about this spider. And I was surprised how much I think we can learn from him. (Or her. Or maybe "it"?)
Here's what we know: He's ambitious. That's a heck of a goal! I don't know what it takes to spin a web across a 50 or 60 foot span, but my hunch is that it ain't easy. What did he get for his efforts? A big slow "giant" crashing through it not once, but twice. But, we also know this about the spider: he wasn't easily discouraged. The next day, another audacious goal. He went big, suffered a setback, and went big again . . . only to suffer yet another setback!
As I thought of this spider, I thought of four things those we can take and apply to youth ministry.
1. Go Big
I hope you're not satisfied with the way things have always been done. I hope that you're so driven by wanting to see your students truly live dynamic faith lives that you're dreaming big about how to make it happen. Now, by "big" I don't mean big production value. I mean big as in "way, way, different." I'm talking about the the radical dreams that wake up our students and get them moving in step with God's unstoppable mission.
2. Take your defeats in stride.
Big vision is still big vision whether or not others go along with you. Keep aiming big. Keep praying, keep trusting. If you're following God's leading, at some point the spark of your vision will catch fire.
3. Multiple setbacks might mean a change in strategy, not an abandonment of the vision.
Multiple setbacks may not mean that you need to stop spinning your web. But it might mean that you need to spin it in a different field. Maybe you can't win the fight for getting rid of that sacred programming hour. Maybe you can't get the resources or approval to do that thing you think needs to be done. Dream big anyway. Come up with a plan, take a few stabs at it, and if you need to change approaches, do it. But don't settle for less than your students deserve.
4. At some point you might have to spin your webs out of reach of blundering giants.
This one speaks for itself, I think. :)
Amazing what you can learn from a spider, don't you think?