For months, I have had a buys backpacking trip on the calendar. This one event has become my favorite event of the year. We take guys away for a weekend and have an adventure in creation where they get to unplug and be guys!
But this trip almost didn't happen. For a number of reasons my numbers went from 20, to 15, to 10, and all the way down to 5 on the day of the event. My soul was crushed. Once again I got to feel the angst of planning a party that no one wants to come to.
But instead of throwing in the towel, I decided to forge ahead, but with a new plan, and a new purpose.
The more the merrier
With a wounded heart, I decided to make this at least make this trip a win for me. So I strong armed all my guy youth staff I could, then reached out to college kids who were back for the summer, and filled up our spots.
With a few phone calls, this trip went from a "high school guys' camping trip" to "Ben's favorite peeps over 4 generations of student ministry" trip. And while this trip wasn't exactly what I dreamed up at the beginning of the year, it was a trip that actually filled my soul and accomplished way more then I could have ever expected.
Guys need Men to look up to:
On this trip I had my 5 high school kids, then 3 college guys, then 2 post college guys, and 3 adult men at different stages of life. Goofing around was great. Day hiking peaks was great. Eating gross freeze dried food. And dealing with the gas that followed. But the biggest highlight was sitting around in a circle on our last morning together.
Every guy shared a verse in scripture that is meaningful to them right now, and the responses were amazing. Not amazing because so many guys are sold out for Jesus, but amazing because every guy shared in a way that was deep and authentic. The sharing ranged from fully doubting faith, to feeling like God is calling them into ministry.
As everyone shared, I noticed an amazing thing taking place. The high school guys were watching the college guys, who were watching the adult guys. And by having guys to look up to, their current drama and angst was now placed in context.
After sharing, there was some organic conversation that arose between our high school kids and the adults as we hiked down the hill. Instead of shame or guilt for their struggles, they were affirmed for their authenticity. Instead of faking some idealized version of manhood, these guys got to see that doubt is a natural part of faith formation.
For the guys on this trip, and for the guys in my ministry, I am convinced more than ever, that the way through is by simply living life on life. Guys need men older to look up to and guys younger to pour into. When this happens, the smokescreens, apathy, and doubt can be part of the faith process and not simply roadblocks.
I am thankful for the older guys in my life.
As I reflect on this last weekend, I am so thankful for the older guys in my life that walked with me through all sorts of crazy seasons of life. I am thankful that they modeled love for Jesus and a love for me. My prayer for the guys on this trip is that they too would come to love Jesus and love one another.
I am thankful that our ministry has a number of guys around who are pursuing Jesus and willing to share their lives with these high schoolers. For it is life on life where transformation happens. And as we share life we get to wrestle through doubt, bust up smokescreens, and invite these younger guys into the wild adventure that is becoming a godly man.