To 11 Years!

I’m headed to the Gateway Region Young Life Fall Staff Conference this week.  Each fall, as the school year begins, my job changes, restarts, and begins anew as well. I have completed 11 years of vocational ministry- two years full time and the rest part time. This fall is the beginning of my 8th year serving as the Regional Training Coordinator and my 12th year on the Young Life staff.  For the 3rd time in 12 fall staff conferences, I elect to not spend the night in order to breastfeed my baby. I am torn between loving retreats- the focus of time away and the saturation of community- and the once in a lifetime opportunity to feed Oaks. The blessing of the retreat being local is I can do it all!

Awesome Platte Co leaders 2010

Awesome Platte Co leaders 2010

I love the ministry of Young Life. I feel so privileged to have spent my professional life serving inside and being shaped by this mission. I fully believe the heart of Young Life reflects the heart of Christ and the purpose of Young Life is an essential one: sending caring adults to invest in the lives of teenagers as friends and mentors as they navigate the throes of adolescence: figuring out their identity, where and how they belong, and YES!- that they matter- to the world and to the God of the universe who created them and always and ever pursues them.

I had only dated Young Life before I came on staff. I met Young Life while dating Drew in college and was invited into the leadership community of his team at Oak Park with the likes of Brad and Melissa Voigt, Sara Breedlove, and Brad and Sam Anderson. Brett Hersma was the Regional Director. Brett took a chance on hiring me with no real Young Life experience and sent me to Savannah, MO where I began the staff journey.

For 11 years, I’ve been shaped by what’s been said to me or what I’ve read. My peers on the YL staff are amazing people and the kids I’ve become friends with are just awesome. Off the top of my head, here are a few, mostly recent isms about YL and my job on staff. This short list in NO WAY begins to capture the wealth of wisdom, the conglomeration of comments, and the whispers of the Spirit I’ve collected over the years.



Here are 11 quotes that sit in my head (today)

and remind me why I do what I do and how Jesus moves in this ministry. 

1. “Young Life is not in the business of taking bad kids and turning them into good kids. Young Life is in the business of taking dead kids and bringing them back to life“- Pat Goodman, New Staff Training, August 2002

2. “I was telling a counselor my story and he said, ‘With all that has happened to you, you shouldn’t even be alive. How have you overcome? Survived?’ and so I told him, “Because of Young Life and my leaders.– Lauren, Fall, 2007

3. “Young Life is an outgrowth of the conviction that Jesus Christ is everything that kids want most, if they just knew it- the most wonderful, the most attractive, the strongest, most gracious, loving person this world has ever seen.. If only every high school kid in this great land could come to know Him! It’s up to us to show them what they’re missing. Let’s keep at it! “...“O Lord Jesus, give us the teen-agers, each one at least long enough for a meaningful confrontation with Thee. We are at best unprofitable servants, but Thy grace is sufficient. O Thou, Holy Spirit, give us the teenagers, for we love them and we know them to be awfully lonely.”– Jim Rayburn, YL’s founder,  praying at a staff conference in the early days around YL’s founding in 1941

Lauren Ashley Payton. My good friend- we met when she was a sophomore in high school in 2004. Now she's getting married in less than two months! Yay LAP!

Lauren Ashley Payton. My good friend- we met when she was a sophomore in high school in 2004. Now she’s getting married in less than two months! Yay LAP!

4. “Lindsey, you are a lot of work, and yet I am never tired of you. I will always want to be with you and will advocate for you. You are loved no matter what and always will be. I never want a break from you.” God, speaking to me in the leader lounge at Crooked Creek in June 2010.

I was there with 14 high school girls, excited to have a break from Eli, almost 3,  and And, just 2, while they spent the week in the loving and capable care of my mom. They were busy and a lot of work in that season- I was sure I would enjoy the break. However, by night 2, at the leader meeting, I came undone. I missed them. I wanted out of camp and to be back with my kids. That’s when the Spirit spoke to me about the unfathomable, unstopping, perfect, parental love of God, expressed in Christ, for me. I spent the rest of the week trying to share the truth of that love with those 14 friends of mine in the cabin.

Mads and Haley- in my Crooked Creek cabin of 2010

Mads and Haley- in my Crooked Creek cabin of 2010

5. “Ministry is like the potter’s wheel. We put ourselves on the wheel as clay- open to be molded and changed. Ministry is what God uses to shape us.– Ray Donatucci, Midwest Divisional Training Coordinator, 2011, 2013- in explaining the Training program to new staff on his “Barnstorming” tour.

6. “I’d get another part-time job in order to keep giving financially to support Young Life. I don’t want to hang out with high school students- it’s not for me- But I believe in it so much I’ll support it generously and pray for the people headed to the high school.”– a donor who led YL for awhile and found out being a volunteer leader was not for her. She now continues to generously give to me and encourages me in the reality that the whole body of Christ ministers together to reach kids. Donors do ministry!!!

7. “This is a really different Christmas. I just never knew that Christmas had anything to do with Jesus until after hearing about Jesus at camp this summer. I’m really excited.” one of my cabin girls in December of 2012. She was a junior and we sat at Panera reveling in the Love that defines Christmas- I couldn’t wait for her to experience the fullness of joy that season, for the FIRST time!

8. “I’ve quit Young Life three times.”– Lyn Tenbrink. Lyn is an all-star staff woman, currently working full time in Michigan as the Divisional Capernaum coordinator. When she spoke at a leader weekend a year ago, she encouraged me to pay attention to God’s voice calling me into different forms of ministry at different stages of life. I quit volunteer leading after 9 years…just taking a break. That’s my first “quit” and I’m getting antsy to get back in the game!

Oh Muck Fest

Oh Muck Fest


9. “Lindsey, you need triggers that remind you that Jesus has brought you here and is with you here.“- Tom Pruden, my boss, 2013, reminding me in moments of being overwhelmed by life as a mom and a minister, that Jesus IS and I am ok. 

10. “Whenever you’re wondering if club was a success, simply ask,  ‘Did kids have fun? Did they hear about Jesus?’ That’s all that really matters.”– Peach, perhaps passing on a Hinde-ism, about the simplicity of Young Life- letting kids be kids, loving them where they are, and sharing with them the very very Good News.

11. “I want us to have fun together. I want us to be people who pray.” Brett Hersma, at Assigned Team Training 2013, leading us to dream about who we wanted to be as a team. Indeed- my most recent Castaway assignment was filled with lots of fun with people and rich times of praying with and for others.

Shoot, I miscounted and over-thought. Here’s one more…for going forward, in year 12.

12. “We have to be excited. What are you excited about? The God of the universe has given us everything we need and we get to live each day with him. Let’s stop talking about being busy and talk about what makes us excited!” Binny Pearce, Spring 2013, celebrating her birthday and encouraging a room full of women to live into Jesus’ blessings and out for the world for Him. Binny began a good work for Young Life in Platte County and God is continuing to complete it. Binny and Bill are blessings, wise sages, and the best cheerleaders. They are a rich blessing in my life.

Castaway tableau 2013

Castaway tableau 2013

Moving forward, I’m challenged, excited, and eager. I love that my job enables me to use my gifts and my seminary degree. I’ve interviewed for other jobs twice and keep coming back to how much I feel this job fits what I am built to do and love doing- teaching, theologically and missionally, and investing in people.

For as long as I’m called and capable, I’m here and I feel grateful.




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