Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Usually, I Only Learn From Mistakes

Usually, I have to learn from my mistakes, but not this last week. This last week, I actually learned something because I did it right. 

This is very rare for me. I am convinced that, most of the time, God is sitting around shaking his head at me and dispatching yet another angel to teach me a lesson “the hard way.” More often than not, it involves explosions (sometimes physical, sometimes emotional). I guess it’s just hard to get my attention.

But maybe this unique experience will help me remember that I don’t always have to do things the wrong way first to learn. And, hopefully, you will be able to take something from reading it.

This is what happened:

Over a week ago, I threw a pile of clothes into my car and set off for North Carolina to be a groomsman at a friend’s wedding. As I drove south, I had a feeling of dread. I would have to drive back after the wedding reception the next evening (Saturday) and somehow be a dynamic leader, a caring overseer, and (especially) a godly example to 150 people starting Sunday and lasting for the whole week. Why? Because I am the Camp Producer and one of the main teachers for a program called iGovern. iGovern is a weeklong camp for Christian students who come in from around the nation to learn about how government works and to have fun.

It was on that drive to North Carolina that I made a commitment: I pledged to myself that I would make a conscious effort to show people around me that I really cared. At first glance that might sound horrible. You might ask, “Shouldn’t you always be doing that?” And of course you would be right. But I am not perfect, and, sometimes, I need to take things in baby steps.

My commitment, however, went from baby step size to something more the scale of surviving Mordor or conquering Teddy Roosevelt’s ego (take your pick). I finally arrived back for the camp after an exhausting, night-long drive. I was grumpy, and I thought I could feel a scratchy cold coming on. In short, I was running low on happy juice and I was in no condition to show that I care, let alone love, to those 150 people.

Photo by Daniel Tate
But I had to try. I had to do my best to show love and care in whatever I did that week. So, I stuck with it. For example, I made sure that I was open to talking with anyone who came up to me if had time (or sometimes even if I didn’t; I ended up missing a meal or two, but that was worth it.). But even when I was reluctant, God encouraged me. God showed His grace and used me-a scratchy throated grumpy vessel-to change kids’ lives. He used our whole team of outstanding staff members who opened themselves and shared God’s love with the students.

Even before camp began, I was at the end of my rope. I know that any love that people saw coming from me, wasn’t from me. I don’t think I could have given anything more than a plastic smile without a little (or maybe a lot of) help. God’s grace, however, empowered me to have a great time and show His love.

Simply being willing to let God use you (and showing that you care) can be HUGE! I spoke with two people who said that my camp chapel message was a key chapter in their salvation stories that happened last week. And after a week of countless conversations with dozens of people, I know that, even if I never see the results here on earth, God was using what was said to accomplish His purposes.

I am learning that the Body of Christ is like politics; relationships matter. In politics, if you don’t build and maintain lasting relationships, you will go nowhere. The same is true in the Body. The Body of Christ is a built on relationships, relationships that we should work on more often. I know that some of these students will go on to do great things and I hope that I can continue to be a part of what God is doing in them. But I need to remember that unless God builds the house, man works in vain.

Usually, I have to learn from my mistakes; maybe this time I can learn from a hugely successful week. 

Post by Jeremiah Lorrig
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