Flip the Switch

June 2nd, 2010--9:30 PM
I collected my things, placed my laptop gently in my bag, turned off the lights, and walked out the door. This is the end of the final Veritas meeting of the year, our 38th meeting of the year. The way our schedule plays out is not for the faint of heart. We very rarely cancel meetings, only when there's a holiday or when there's a snow storm of biblical proportions. (I'm looking at you February)

Ed and I sat in our office that night, knowing that we were done for a while. We had run a very good race, but we're tired now, ready for a slow summer (ha ha ha ha ha ha) and a little bit of rest. I didn't want to write another talk. I didn't want to organize another lock-in. I didn't want to do anything with our Youth Ministry. I was done for the summer, and as several of our awesome parents would tell us in the next couple of weeks.

July 30th, 2010--7:00 PM
I stepped off the stage from a special guest speaking gig with my friends over at the Bible Chapel. I was the speaker for their Teen Madness event. While most of us usually have one big night of a kick off event, the Chapel has three. But Tree Anthem was playing the gig, and they asked me to speak, and I figured it wouldn't hurt to get out there and speak a little bit.

As I walked off the stage, I felt incredibly good about what I had just spoken. Everything I used was new material, an attempt to shake the dust off of whatever might have passed by in the couple weeks of break I had. But the feeling that took over wasn't expected, though it certainly was familiar. I was ready for Veritas to start again. My brain flooded with new ideas while I was sitting in the worship center, just 10 minutes removed from speaking. "Bring it on" I thought, "I am ready for the year."

I wonder how the switch gets flipped in us. I think we can certainly all relate to how I was feeling in June, ready to take a break, step aside, and if we're really lucky go crash on a beach somewhere for a while. But then most of us come back from a couple of weeks of rest and are more energized than ever to hit the ground running, with new ideas and lesson plans and events. But how is it that we get from one to the other? How is it that we go from never wanting to see a youth group game again to test driving the new uses for pudding we thought up in our free time?

And what happens to people who don't have the switch flipped? Those are the clearest examples of burnout, aren't they? The people that just can't look at another powerpoint presentation, another bible study, another round of dodgeball. Their summer goes by like the rest of us, but when they hit the other side, they have no desire at all to do what they used to love so deeply. The switch is never flipped, and they enter a new condition that doesn't usually end well.

So what does the switch look like for you? Is it the end of a yearly vacation? Is it seeing the kids again for the first time? Is it some other ritual you take part in? What gets you going for youth ministry each year?