Recently, I prepared a story to tell the children in Adaptive VBS for their “Story and Stretch” time (think Bible Lesson meets Yoga).  At Adaptive VBS, we heard how Jesus was a different kind of leader. I would talk about how Jesus was the kind of leader who loved and served others, and how we should look for leaders like that as well as be leaders like that.


It got my heart remembering.


Growing up, there was a man named Barney in our church. I saw him a lot at church, because he loved God and showed his love for God by serving the ministries of the church and the people of the church. When I connected with Barney, I am guessing he was in his 50s and I was a senior in high school. I was the “president” of the youth group at church.  We were planning a first in a long time youth mission trip, headed to Mountain TOP. 


Barney’s son, Tim, in his early 20s, was one of our youth leaders, and an equally loving and serving kind of leader. When the call came for adults to go on the mission trip with the youth, Tim and Barney were first to volunteer. They were the kind of leaders who loved and served others, and they demonstrated it for the youth over and over again. They gladly planned a three-day car ride with teenagers and a special camping stop on the way to the mission trip to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.


They joyfully engaged in a softball game at the KOA campground with us. They hugged kids who were homesick, listened to kids who were struggling, washed dishes alongside their teenage counterparts, and empowered youth to be servants in mission. They were Jesus-like leaders.


Isn’t that the aim of everyone who seeks to follow Jesus? Don’t we all want to find ways to serve and love like Jesus served and loved? We will all do that differently.  Maybe you will never go on a youth mission trip, but you might co-chair the Administration Team. Maybe you will never play softball with the youth, but you will hold babies in the nursery. Maybe you aren’t much for sitting in team meetings, but you will quietly weed the garden. 


The truth is that God has equipped each of us for works of ministry. We choose whether or not we will use our gifts to lead, and what kind of leader we will be. Barney was particularly gifted, and he chose to use those gifts in many ways, including hanging out with youth and serving and loving them. He didn’t have to do that. But because he loved Jesus and wanted to follow Jesus’ ways, he 1) stepped up to lead when the call came, and 2) lead with love and service.


As fall approaches and we see an opportunity to re-launch various beloved ministries that have been on hold since COVID began, leaders will be needed.  Leaders will be needed for a full experience of Sunday School and to revitalize our ministry with youth. Leaders will be needed to care for food for our Wednesday Night Live experience, and leaders will be needed to make music for worship.  Members and friends of Eden Prairie UMC will need to step up to lead and will need to lead in loving and serving ways. Not just some members and friends, but all members and friends are needed. How will you answer or anticipate the call into leadership? I hope when the time comes, that you will step up and lead like Jesus!


Pastor Becky Jo

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