30 Hour Famine National Director Leah Swindon: Why?
You know the saying that your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness? That’s how I feel about the word “why.” I love it and I truly dislike it at the same time. I tend to ask myself “why” repeatedly until there’s nowhere left to go.
I believe that as youth workers “why” is one of the most important questions we ask ourselves. As an example, when I have my youth leader hat on, I’ll ask myself: “Why are we doing this service project?” Is it because there’s a need or because we need to be doing it? Can both answers be correct? Absolutely. But ultimately, one will trump the other.
So under that context, what is your motivation for working with students? Why do you do what you do?
I was prompted to dig into this question when I was reading Andrew Root’s book series on theology and youth ministry. He poses the question: “What is the purpose of youth ministry?” I found that when I put my youth group under this lens there are times I came out lacking.
As the full time Director of the 30 Hour Famine program and the volunteer youth leader at my church, I can cross the line of making sure I “get things done” just because I lack the time. And that is the wrong approach entirely.
As if that wrestling weren’t enough we decided that to look at this question as the 30 Hour Famine team. Why are we so passionate about reaching young people through the Famine? Our team wrestled with this question and we all came from different places.
We love connecting with youth workers and providing an experience that helps to empower our students through action and a little discomfort to do the work that Christ has called us to do. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” How awesome is it for our students to feel themselves being a part of that calling?
But why are we doing it?
If I were to get right down to it, there is nothing more powerful, more beautiful, and more Christ-like than students helping fellow kids. Playing a part in that, even in a small way, is a part of who we are called to be as Christians. I often turn to the book of Mark when I think of our role in teaching students about the importance of serving: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Mark 5:6 NIV)
When you get right down to it. That’s my “why.”
Leah Swindon, the youth leader at West Seattle Christian Church