How to avoid an early KidMin exit
Have you ever seen the movie "Wild?" You know, the one where Reese Witherspoon plays Cheryl Strayed, the troubled soul who sets out for an epic 2,650 mile hike (with her spoon and every other piece of gear under the sun) on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT.) If so, you might remember that in the end, she didn't make it to the finish line at the Canadian border. In fact, she made it less than halfway (1,100 miles) before calling it quits. Apparently, she's not alone. Every year about 1,000 people step onto the PCT at the Mexican border in hopes of completing the trail in one season, but less than 40% actually make it. Needless to say, it's a long walk and there are a lot of things that can knock you off the trail.
So what's the key to going the distance according to those who have done it? You might be surprised. It's not so much about physical conditioning or gear selection (although that's important.) It's about the "gear between the ears." It's about preparing yourself mentally. Specifically, it's about answering this question: why are you doing it? In other words, what's your purpose? Hikers with a defined "why" are far more likely to push through the pain of a giant blister or achy joints. When they're overcome with loneliness, boredom, or exhaustion, they can tap into their purpose to push them forward. You're a pretty sharp person, so you can probably already see the connection to Kidmin. Every year a thousand or so people (idk...I'm making up a number here) start the long walk of being a KidMin leader, but somewhere along the trail they quit before the finish line. It's probably not because of a blister (emphasis on probably,) but it could be from loneliness, or boredom, or exhaustion. Or clashing personalities. Or lack of support from leadership. Or spiritual warfare. Or fill in the blank. I've heard that the average duration of a KidMin leader is about 2 years. I don't know the validity of that number, but based on my experience, it sounds about right. And if I had to guess, I would say those people might have something in common with the PCT hikers who exited early: they lacked a well-defined "why." Have you ever thought about why you're in KidMin? I mean really thought about it. If not, I encourage you to spend 15 minutes doing so. Think beyond the surface. "Because I needed the extra cash," or "Because my head pastor asked me to," are weak why's. You won't withstand a stiff breeze with those why's. Here are some better ones: Because I have a clear and specific calling from God to reach kids with the gospel of Jesus. Because I want to help the next generation avoid the spiritual pitfalls that I fell into as a young adult. Because I believe that I can bring hope to the world by giving the hope of Jesus to the kids in my community. If you like those, don't just copy them--make them you're own. Or come up with a different one altogether. Whatever it is, it has to be your personal battle cry. But don't stop there, write it down. Better yet, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll incorporate it into an image that you can print out or save as your computer background. Put it somewhere where you'll see it on a regular basis so that when things get tough (and I promise you...they will) you can be reminded of your why. It might just be the thing that stands between you and an early KidMin exit.