"Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you."
"So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last."
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."
As I've been reflecting on the last six months of leading the School of Innovative Youth Ministry, specifically our time in New Zealand, the previous are some of the phrases that come to mind. As much as I tried to plan and be super organised (my preference for most things I do) God highlighted to me that relationships are not planned, dictated, organised, and scheduled. They're spontaneous, ever flowing, organic, there's free will and choice, and they can be very unpredictable.
Everything we were able to do was done so out of relationship, whether that was sharing our own knowledge and wisdom about youth ministry, sorting through what seemed like endless amounts of clothes and linens at the salvation army, running a youth group, or just meeting people around town.
Our motivation was simply to serve in the opportunities we had and to make friends with those we found ourselves among. I could give you stats like: we gave away two bibles, we saw eight people "accept" Jesus, we prayed for more than forty people, or we worked with six different youth groups/communities.
However, that doesn't depict or even begin to reflect what I feel like God was really doing in our time there. Those "stats" don't portray the time we went into town and happened to meet a young woman who was traveling and didn't have a place to stay for the night. She was deeply moved by our generosity, love, and joy to be an answer to her need. They don't show you the happy faces of the young Maori youth we met at the park to play rugby with. The stats don't predict the fact that when Ben asked us to run the youth group one Monday night that it was actually an answer to prayer because he ended up not being able to come due to sickness.
I have this phrase that I say, "God is the best planner and organiser I know."
In every high and low I'm thankful for how he orchestrated our time in New Zealand. I was personally stretched and I grew in my perspective for serving others, learning more about how to be a good leader and knowing what it looks like to have authentic relationships in life.