Several experiences in my own life have taught me that people need to be cared for and encouraged. We all have moments where we need someone to invest kindness and care in our lives. Sometimes we need people to give us permission to rest. That is the lens I was looking through as we prepared for and held the Global Youth Worker Summit in Kenya.
I had the privilege of communicating with a lot of the invitees, many of whom are NMSI affiliates, before the Summit and I also had some one-on-one time with most of them during the Summit. I learned that each one had their own set of challenges they were facing as they came to the Summit.
What was so special for me during this trip was that God gave us the opportunity to do much more for these servants than simply welcome them and give them a room to stay. We got to create a space for them where they could learn from each other, create new relationships, be reminded of why they do what they do, learn new things, and be inspired to continue to invest in the lives of young people.
I understood even more how important that was during one of our affinity groups. Each day we would break up into groups and talk about different topics and learn from each other's experience. I had the privilege of leading the self-care affinity group and we all realized very quickly that we have a lot of room to grow in this area of our lives. Each person had felt burned out or overworked.
We were able to identify some of the obstacles that we face in regard to self-care. Most of them boiled down to fear:
Fear of man
Needing to prove we are good enough
Fear of not living up to people's expectations
Fear of letting go of control
We were able to talk about how to overcome some of those obstacles and how to find someone to keep us accountable in the area of self-care.
This was really special because we not only got to care for them and encourage them at the Summit, but we also got to encourage them to continue caring for themselves even after they left. Our worth doesn't come from the things that we do, though we all want to be faithful. Our worth comes from whose we are. We belong to the Good Shepherd who gives rest to the weary and power to the powerless.
I know without a doubt that each one of these servants of God left the Summit feeling valued, cared for, and invested in not only by the YouthHope team, but by each other. And not because of what they do or what they can produce, but for who they are. They all left saying how encouraged and inspired they were to keep serving the youth of their communities. It's just amazing to me that God lets us be a part of that.