After roughly 14 BLAST events and 20 Philippines Frontline Outreach Trip events, I have seen some similarities and patterns between the two that are worth noting. BLAST is an annual youth conference held over the MLK holiday weekend in January at an indoor waterpark hotel in the Wisconsin Dells – this year we had over 1,100 in attendance. Basically two leaders host 10-12 kids in a room for 4 days and 3 nights!
Both events are what I would call “super concentrated life experiences.” You are experiencing aspects of life with growth, development and challenges that would normally be experienced over a course of several months – that are now compressed into a few days.
- “those being served” will also be tired, physically worn down, and emotionally and spiritually fatigued. They will sometimes be unreasonable, be disrespectful, be disruptive, not pay attention, cry, yell, check-out emotionally, fight, argue, say mean things to each other, say mean things to “lay leaders” and say mean things to “staff”. In other words, you will experience drama!
- Other “lay-leaders” may annoy you with things they say, the way they say things, what they don’t say, things they do and don’t do. You and other lay-leaders may annoy the “staff” with things you say, how you say things, and what you don’t say, things you do and don’t do.
- As a “lay-leader” you will go through ups and downs. You may have incredible moments of connection with “those being served” alongside times where you may doubt you are making any difference at all, and that maybe you were never cut out to do this kind of work. At some points you may believe that “those being served” deserve better than you, and at other times you may believe that you are experiencing one of your holy ordained purposes in life.
- As a “lay leader” you are very likely to unintentionally to say things that come across as insensitive and maybe critical of the “staff”. You are likely to unintentionally, do and say things that seem to cheapen what is going on, and that seemingly reduces the monumental effort the “staff” put in prior to, during, and after the event. You will not be able to fully understand the context and perspective of the “staff” even if you really want to and try hard to do it.
Hang in there. Don’t get too caught up in potentially negative moments. Fight through to the end.
After you get home and get caught up on sleep, good food and good bathroom time, you will have a much clearer mind with which to reflect on the past event and plan future opportunities for influence around it!
After all, compressed life experiences are like – well – real life 🙂
Real life is filled with ups, downs, and everything in between. Proper perspective, grace and rest go along way to make real life satisfying – and those things work well for “concentrated life experiences” as well!