Have you ever sat on a porch cracking open walnuts shells for the savory meat in the middle? I love this simple yet repetitive task because it offers a peace of mind rarely found in the day to day humdrum. Inevitably, you always comes across the one nut that does not want to crack. Instead of dropping it and continuing with another one you spend the next 15 minutes giving this one nut your undivided attention. After several colorful words and a couple cracked nails you have crushed the stubborn thing to the point the meat inside is unusable.
Youth work is a lot like this. Every group of teenagers, or people in general for that matter, have that one stubborn mind that refuses to crack easily. Instead of focusing on the easier more pliable minds we respond to the challenge and attack like our honor is at stake. Days, weeks, maybe years go by with not one budge and we are left burnt out and exhausted believing that we have in some way failed them, ourselves, and our God. A great man once told me to focus on the ones that respond and let God work on the ones that don't. This is completely opposite of what my instinct wants me to do. I want to be the wise Yoda that take the rough and rude pupil and mold and shape him into a respectable warrior... for God of course. Instead, I am quickly learning that God must be the slow moving water that erodes the hard shell of doubt and apathy away. I guess the question is do I have the patience to allow God to work in his own time table. I pray that we find the movements of God peaceable and reaffirming instead of slow and annoying. I hope that we first crack our own shells before we work on the surfaces of others.