Can I help it that I’m excited it’s football season? I know last time I was all stoked on Fantasy Football. Well now I’m gearing up for the college football season too!
I’m sure most of you closely followed the quarterback competition at the University of Oregon, right? No? That’s OK. I’ll catch you up real quick…
1) Last season the Ducks won the Rose Bowl. That’s a big deal (unless you’re an SEC kind of person).
2) After the big Rose Bowl win, starting quarterback Darron Thomas left school for the NFL draft. That was a bad idea.
3) Most U of O fans began looking to his back-up, sophomore Bryan Bennett, to take over this year.
Unfortunately for Bennett it did not work out that way. Redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota came in and won the job of starting quarterback for the Ducks. After coach Chip Kelly made the announcement, talk began to spread of Bennett bolting Eugene and transferring to another school where he could start.
I was relieved, however, to see this video: http://www.kezi.com/web-extra-bryan-bennett-remains-a-duck/
Bennett, who Coach Kelly says is good enough to start most anywhere in the county, could have left and lots of schools would have welcomed him with open arms. I wouldn’t have blamed him either; the guy has worked all his life to become a starting quarterback. Why not go to a place where that dream can become a reality? I’m sure many other people in his shoes would have gone where the grass was greener.
It was a breath of fresh air to hear, as Bennett put it in the interview, that he and his teammates began the journey for this season together back in the spring and he wasn’t going to leave them now. “I want to be with my teammates. I need them and they need me,” he said.
I don’t get much of a sense of this kind of loyalty in our culture and it’s not too terribly often I hear stories of this kind of perseverance. We tend towards flightiness don’t we? With so much “stuff” at our fingertips, be it social networks, entertainment venues, coffee shops, philosophies or theologies it’s so easy to get what we want here and then move on to there. Or, in Bennett’s case, if we don’t get what we want here, there are endless suitors who are willing to give us what we do want.
Paul’s foresight in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 carries on through today, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” This rings true not just in matters of faith and doctrine but, as we have experienced for ourselves, in all matters of life.
So how do we effectively minister to people, especially youth, in this grass-is-always-greener environment? Let me offer just one very simple suggestion: consistency.
This is something our Christian faith offers that nothing else in the world can. The writer of Hebrews puts it succinctly, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (13:8). What greater comfort is there in a world of endless change?! Who else can say that? In the midst of all kinds of emotional, familial, social and technological change, God does not change. As leaders in the church and teachers of the faith, perhaps one of the best lessons we can teach is simply offering students a consistent presence…and pulling in all the other adults we can find and teaching them to do the same.
I love that about our job. No matter which way life pulls students, we get to be the ones to welcome them back. We get to be the ones who are excited to see them walk through the doors. We get to be the ones to remind them that, despite the fact they have tried to find greener grass elsewhere, there exists this God who does not change, who welcomes them back into the fold, and who continues to offer His love and grace unconditionally. This is something they can’t find anywhere else. Our consistent presence can remind them of God’s consistent presence.
It seems like such a simple thing but one of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a student when she noticed that every week after church I would stand by the food and coffee (location, location, location, right?), eat animal crackers and say “Hey, Hobson…you coming to youth group tonight?” Lots of times she wouldn’t or couldn’t because her family was, in her words, “nomadic,” and were frequently off on some new adventure. My point is she noticed the consistency. And you should have animal crackers at your church. But mostly she noticed.