This is the first Fall since Josh and I have been together that we haven't been in full swing starting youth group and hanging out with teens. In July, a large group of parents and friends threw us a " Josh and Leslie Appreciation Night" and one of our sweet seniors wrote this poem. She read it out loud and without even realizing it I just started crying as I listened. Isn't it just so precious? I'm keeping it forever.
The new youth Pastor is here and he and the entire group is thriving. We are feeling so blessed and encouraged by the way everything has gone with the transition to a new leader. The teens are still coming and learning about the Lord, and we are feeling incredibly excited about the direction things are going. We support their new leader with complete confidence that these kids we love are in the best, most capable hands they could possibly be in.
In fact, the entire transition has gone so smoothly that Josh and I think we could probably write a book about it! (I'm only half joking about that, by the way). There are countless stories of ministry transitions going terrible, so we are relieved that ours is a tale of emotional health, honesty, transparency, prepared planning, and group effort. This combined effort from the leaders at our church is the reason that the movement we worked for four years to start will sustain itself and, in fact, is now poised to grow exponentially.
Seeing all of the exciting things that are happening with and for the teens can invoke one of two feelings. Excitement about the direction things are going, or resentment about being "replaced". (Bleh. I don't even like typing the second part.) Obviously, we have chosen (and will always choose) excitement. How could we not? We feel thankful, not resentful. We feel released, not replaced. We feel celebrated, not forgotten. There is no room for negative emotions in a season such as this. My heart is free to enjoy what is happening because I really feel that God spoke the following words to my heart a few weeks ago:
"Leslie, you and Josh were the seed that had to die so a bigger plant could grow. You, the seed, did exactly what you were supposed to do for the season you were supposed to do it. You gave life to something that was always going to be much bigger than you. Every seed must die so that a new life can be born. This season is that new birth."
So, as a truly fulfilling and blessed season of our life officially comes to an end, we look forward to the knew plant that is our former ministry, and the new seed that we are. We are moving forward in the new direction that God has lead us. We are looking back at what we created and what we did the last four years fondly and will continue to witness - joyfully - all that is going to unfold in the years to come with the teens.
Maybe we'll always be "seeds". Starting new movements, and when the time is right, dying so that something bigger than we ever could have imagined could grow. Being the seed means a life of humility and knowing that we aren't going to be the biggest/best/most important part of anything.
and I like the sounds of that.
"Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life." John 12:23-25