It is a tradition in our Young Life area every May to honor our graduating college volunteers.  This year, we decided to let each of the 12 leaders speak parting words to the rest of our area, in hopes it would give younger leaders a vision for how they wanted to spend their time in Young Life.  In situations like these, people tend to speak about the one or two themes that have defined their season with us.  I was amazed as I listened to all 12 graduates speak the same words.

The primary value of our graduates was simple, showing up.  They spoke about the countless hours of driving to the school to meet kids, sitting in the stands at sporting events, riding on the bus to camp, hanging out, laughing, talking, and sharing life.  Each leader represented hundreds of hours of investment into the lives of kids, and the fruit of their investment is tremendous.  While many of their kids have gone on to become Young Life leaders themselves, that story is the minority.  Many of the kids they have pursued haven’t responded.  I’m proud to say that each of these leaders kept showing up even when students didn’t respond.

The love of Christ is greater than response.  Listening to these leaders speak reminded me of King Jesus showing up in our broken world as a man, to live among and with us.  By showing up in the lives of broken kids, these leaders were the aroma of Christ to many.  As one leader said, ‘the most important thing we do in Young Life is show up.’  I couldn’t agree more.

Their words that night are forever burned in my soul as a call to live like Jesus lived.  A call to keep showing up for kids even when I don’t feel like it, and many times I don’t feel like it.  Thank you leaders for not keeping a safe distance from messy kids, but for drawing close to them and loving them regardless of their response.

Billy Suess is the Area Director for NW Austin YoungLife

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