Lessons from 317 Million Miles Away

I was listening to an NPR news report this morning about the landing a spacecraft on a comet 317 million miles from Earth. The Rosetta probe dropped its payload named, Philae, on the 2.5 mile-wide mass, called 67P/C-G. But there’s a problem. Philae is stuck in a shadowy crater. Its solar panels are unable to absorb the light of the sun. Its battery is dying. So what happens next? And what can this situation teach youth workers?

Philae Touchdown on 67P/C-G

As I considered the story, I was immediately struck with three thoughts worth considering for our ministry with youth. Take a few minutes to ponder these questions and consider their impact:

  1. Are young people able to absorb the light coming from our life?
  2. Are we intentional about taking time to recharge their batteries?
  3. Are youth exposed to dynamic adults or isolated in the shadows?

When I mentor or train youth workers, I often ask them to take inventory of their time. It’s a simple exercise with profound implications. The large majority discover that the greatest percentage of their time is spent apart from youth and from individuals who influence young people. Outside of scheduled events and meetings, their direct exposure is limited.

I want to encourage you today to remember a core value of leadership that cannot be overstated:

Lives are changed through relationships—relationships that change lives take time.

Even as I sit at my desk in isolation writing this morning, I’m challenged to review my own schedule and ask some hard questions:

  1. Am I spending enough time with my Lord and Savior?
  2. Am I spending enough time with my wife and sons?
  3. Am I spending enough time with my team members?
  4. Am I spending enough time with my young people?

I can tell you in all honesty that each of those areas deserve more attention. My spiritual batteries are a little low. My wife and sons feel like they get my leftovers. My team seldom sees me due to my travel schedule. And young people rarely get my time apart from meetings.

How’s that for full-disclosure?

There’s definitely room for improvement in my world. So what happens next depends upon my willingness to make adjustments that create greater exposure and build stronger relationships.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven. —Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)

God doesn’t work in shadows. Absorb his light. Reflect his light.