What students taught me about Trust and Unity…

26 01 2011

This past Friday and Saturday we took 52 staff and students leaders to a cabin in Twain Harte for our 2nd Annual Student Leadership Retreat. We get them away from their friends, families, cell phones, and computers.  The purpose of this retreat, as stated by my good friend Matt Van Cleave,  was to “become vulnerable with one another so our students  grow to understand each other and learn to trust each other. This opens the door to unifying our team around a common purpose and direction. A community of leaders united around a common purpose will accomplish great things for the kingdom of God.”

As Matt led this retreat last year, this purpose became very evident through our time together. Students and a few of our staff shared their deepest secrets, pains, failures, and regrets and came together unlike any group I had ever seen before.

This year was a little different. Matt had to stay in the East Bay to perform a wedding, we had about twice as many people there, and the questions we asked the students were a little bit different. But the results stayed the same: students talked about their doubts and regrets and character flaws, they were honest and sincere, and they grew together like I had only seen once before.

I left last year saying, “We need to find a way to get all of our students on a retreat like this.” And I was saying the same thing this year but in a different context. I began to think about trust and unity in every area of my life. We can be more vulnerable at work, with the teams we lead, with our families, and with our friends. I know there are people in each of those settings that I don’t know a lot about.

“What is their biggest regret? What is their biggest failure? What do they doubt? If they could change one thing about their childhood, what would it be? What are they afraid to tell God? If they could do anything for God without failing, what would it be?”

There is so much I don’t know about the people I do life with and so little they know about me. I had a good friend tell me once that people in our generation are waiting for a pastor who isn’t perfect. I think this is true, but I also think our generation is waiting for a community of people to show weaknesses and imperfections without fear. We have  struggles, addictions, pains, regrets and even joy and things we celebrate that no one knows about. If we knew more and understood more and actually let people in a little bit, trust might mean more than something that just gets broken.

There’s not a huge difference between High School students and those of us who are a bit older than them. We are also broken and hurting people in need of a little depth. Hopefully we can experience healing the way I saw our students this past weekend, as a community united with a common purpose that WILL do amazing things for God.

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