Summer Leadership Training (SLT) has long come and gone. Rockers have had three weeks to rest and reflect. As a new school year is upon us, we look back at the summer that was with three reflections, lessons learned for the year ahead.
This LT was one I won’t soon forget. It challenged me daily and weekly. I learned an important lesson when it came to the topic of community. It’s a gift. At the start of this summer, I didn’t value the community I have. Honestly, it’s easier to be alone because no one hurts you or disappoints you, but I always wondered why I longed for a connection with people. God made us to long for that connection with people because He longs for a connection with us. Even through the hurt and the pain, and even if they may be not perfect, and they will fail me, these men and women of The Rock are worth fighting for. I also know that I can’t constantly look for them to give me everything I want. I use to go into relationships wondering what I could use this friend for. I was a consumer. I realized this summer that I need to be a giver, a servant. I need to value people, not for what they can give me. I need to be loyal and not waver in it. How do we reach that mindset? Simple. All roads lead back to the heart. We must first and foremost love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Then, equally as important, love our community, friends, neighbors, spouse, etc. as we love ourselves. No matter how many times we fail this remember this: it’s not how we start but rather how we finish.
This LT has been challenging but in a good way. This year, God has been working on my heart about the relationship between Him and I. The past two school years, I felt like I was praying very selfishly and reading for my benefit. However, several of the pastors convicted me. I want to learn whom God is because “God is the truth…The Bible is the truth about the truth” (Pat Sokoll). This school year, I am prepared to meditate on God’s word to learn whom He is and to pray about learning whom God is, how to love like Him, and to love Him more every day. In December 2015, we focused on defining moments in our lives. I feel like a lot of Rockers, including myself, walked away a different person after this past summer.
I was really looking forward to a community-themed summer, and it didn’t disappoint. Fellowship, unity, love and loyalty are crucial aspects of our lives as Christians, and time spent learning these habits of the heart will always be time well-spent. Unity grew and memories were made. However, going into the summer, I was a little discouraged. I was dealing with unresolved conflict, missing friends and family, feeling like everything I had ever done as a Small Group leader or person-in-general was a failure, and that I was the only one who saw how terribly wrong everything was going. (It may have been a bit dramatic.) Yet, instead of focusing on growing my relationships with others, fixing problems and being more successful at life, every week, God was teaching me to focus on my relationship with Him.
I realized that I was believing lies that I couldn’t know or love God, and that if I sought Him with all my heart (Jeremiah 29:13), I wouldn’t find Him and He wouldn’t come through. I was trying to convince myself that loving God with my heart and my emotions wasn’t necessary, which is, of all things to believe about my relationship with my Savior, abominably untrue. Before any other relationships, before ministry, before “fixing” problems, I need to learn to turn to God. I don’t need to be so concerned with all the problems, insecurities and disappointments I face, because peace, healing, emotional fulfillment, “success” and enjoyment come only from Him.