It was like she pointed right at her! Her finger was right in the camera pointing at another Leader. I was so shaken, I couldn't even gather myself for a follow-up until weeks later.
She was serious. She was as serious as I've ever seen her. Lindsey told a leader with extreme intensity, "Don't let anyone tell you, you aren't smart. You are one of the most intelligent people I know." She then paused and her finger shifted on the screen and she said to another Leader, "Don't let anyone try to change you. You are so unique! You were meant to be unique and funny for a purpose." My mouth dropped open. My jaw worked up and down, but nothing came out.
I know these kids. I knew them all before they were 8. Two of them are my kids! The exact things she spoke about, were the exact struggles the Leaders she spoke to were having! It wasn't general, it was personal. It was specific. It was a moment where the Spirit spoke an encouragement through her and I was mesmerized.
We had invited several people from Citadel of Faith Covenant Church and from the community to share with us about their Spiritual Gifts. We want #youngleaderslife to be #studentled, so we need our student leaders to have people share how they do leadership. Trusted friends from the church come in and share what they know about their gifts and then they facilitate a conversation with the Leaders to help them brainstorm ways they can use their gifts as teens.
This night Mishae Johnson podcaster of The Bought Lesson came to share her spiritual gift of encouragement. She shared with the Leaders her experience being a kind of young leader herself, "It was hard for me to find people who were my age that were excited about the Lord." She shared how she often felt an identity being known as The Church Girl, knowing things and hearing God share encouragement to share with others. Mishae admitted how lonely that was not being able to share with others that she could do that. She knew what spiritual gifts were and offered scriptures she used to study about them: 1 Corinthians 12:7, 1 Peter 4:10, and even talked about how it was her duty to share them quoting 1 Timothy 4:12. She encouraged the Leaders not to neglect their gifts (I Timothy 1:6). Mishae defined encouragement as inspiring courage, helping someone to flourish. She even shared a way to check if your encouragement has been effective, "Pay attention to the results when you use your gifts...when I encourage others worry goes down, cheer goes up!" She asked the Leaders to ask themselves, "Are the people you're encouraging growing?"It was noted that growth in the people we encourage happens over time. We may not see all the ways they grow.
Mishae shared that it wouldn't always be easy, but that with the Holy Spirit it could be done. "You have to start with the mind of Christ: in humility and love."(Philippians 2:1-8) She acknowledged that humility could be dangerous. It leaves space for vulnerability. She shared something that, I believe sparked the Finger Pointing Incident. Though we leave ourselves vulnerable, "We don't need to look out for our own interest, God will look out for our interest. We look out for other's interests." The kind of Jesus Humility she referred to was, even though he was God he " decided to be more like a slave, a servant, obeyed, died a criminal death for us."
There were a few more moments of awesome teaching and Mishae was done. She gave the Leaders homework. She asked them to practice encouragement. Write down an encouraging word or statement. It could be to yourself, to someone in the meeting today, or someone outside. We thanked her and Mishae signed off. Lindsey asked out of the blue, "Before we go, I have an encouragement I want to share. Can I share before we go?"I stopped my next sentence and opened the floor for her to share. That's when Lindsey pulled out that finger, and pointed it into the camera, and left me speechless.
But I was the only one silent.
The floodgates of encouragement were opened!
Then Justice shared her encouragement. Then Adam shared. Then I cried a little. There was so much happening! And it was the Holy Spirit, lifting each of them as they received encouragement and as they encouraged others.
The words Mishae had said echoed in my head, "The Lord will give you the words to encourage." They were willing and the words just flowed. They morphed into head nods and "Yes!" I was among Believers and the Spirit was present.