See just a few days ago I was at the 2014 Youth Work Summit a place where gifted communicators and youth workers take to the stage to educate, raise awareness of issues and encourage other youth workers to go and change the world. Check out the link for some incredible, moving, motivating talks, it was a great day but it leaves someone like me feeling somewhat defeated, deflated and in a state of silence.
As a natural pesamistic creature I often struggle to feel my place in the world or to grasp what it is I am here for. Now most of the time this remains a deep-seated secret, one that I only share with God in prayer but lately its been a bit bigger. Don't get me wrong I know I have a place, a value, a point and a purpose but every now and then when surrounded with amazingly brilliant, well crafted human beings I feel a little inadequate and am pulled into silence.
The work I am involved in remains, to all those around me I seemingly keep calm and carry on but inside I feel pointless, like I have nothing to say, nothing to contribute and am only suitable to consume the words or advice of others. I read articles written by others, I see tweets about all the amazing things that people are upto but I simply feel I have no voice. Nothing to contribute to others, nothing to add that would bring any value, no words worthy of hearing and so I simply do nothing.
I find myself muted, gagged even. I even go as far as to distance myself from places and spaces where I might be asked to contribute.
Ok but so what? Loads of people remain silent and they don't talk about it. Thing is if someone like me remains silent and feels like they don't have a voice to contribute then someone younger, fresher to youth work, less confident might also feel like that to. And if we all stay silent then well ...
I believe the devil wins.
Truth is we all have something to contribute, its in our collective shared conversation that we all learn, grow, get fed so if one party remains silent then the rest miss out.
This is a fav quote of mine at the moment, I wish I was talented enough to change it from men to people though! And right about now I need to meditate on it.
For I know I am called by God, I know all the verses on being knitted in my withers womb by God, that he has a great plan and purpose for me, I know God uses me to outwork building his kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. I see it day in and day out and yet still I struggle to own the voice he has given me and if even with all that knowledge I remain muted what hope is there for those that stand behind me.
It can be easy in the modern world of Christian celebrities to have green grass syndrome. To see someone else's ministry, youth work, life, voice as better than your own. To compare someone else's front stage polished performance to your messy backstage reality and to walk around feeling like your worthless with nothing to bring to the table and friends let me tell you this is not true!
So I challenge all of you to use the voice God has uniquely given you, to share what your upto, the good and the not so good in order that we might all learn, grow and eat together at the table.
We are all uniquely different because that is how we have been crafted and yet we are all born in God's image with traces of the divine running through our DNA. We have unique experiences to share because of this and no story is any less valid than any other story.
Perhaps your story will encourage someone else, perhaps your story gives others hope, perhaps just maybe your story from yesterday fits with my story for tomorrow?
For the devil wins when good people do nothing so will you rediscover your voice alongside me and seek together to change the narrative for those that follow us ...