Preparing for the Journey
by Kevin Boer
My wife and I are preparing to go on a weekend backpacking trip with Biola University students who have varying levels of back country skills. Their success on their trip depends highly on what they choose to bring with them.
When backpacking, everything that you need must be taken with you. That is the challenge, for any distance travelled will be with all that stuff. So it becomes a balance between comfort and necessity.
In preparation for the trip the question is, "What to bring and what to leave?" The packing process becomes a series of trade offs. Do I take the chair with me that weighs one pound or do I sit on a rock when I camp? Will it rain? How much food will I need? What if my boots blow out? Should I bring another pair?
The same is true for leading students. In our lives there are an abundance of opportunities to fit into a limited amount of time. Every leader will have to prioritize what they do to influence others around them.
Here are two questions that help in the preparation process to being an effective leader.
What will I keep?
The good is always the enemy of the best. There are so many things that will crowd out what is most important. Determining what is essential helps us to know how to prepare. That is why I recommend developing a personal mission statement. It is a synthesis of who you are and how God intends for you to influence others.
What will I leave behind?
Before every backpacking trip we do the "pack dump." We have every participant pull all of their items out and determine what is essential and what is not necessary. Sometimes things get packed that are not necessities. I remember one student bringing a Bible commentary and a foot and a half long flashlight with him! Another brought a metal Bible that weighed a ton!
In the same way, we sometimes put in our lives what is not important and carry that burden with us. Instead, we need to schedule what is important first and then see what else fits.
Preparing for your journey
As you look to mentor students for the journey of life, it is so important to have others taking the journey with you. That is why I advocate joining a ministry network of like-minded people in your area. If you are a youth worker and not connected into a network, I highly recommend going to youthworkers.net/networks to find a ministry network close to you.