I recently came back from a one week experience in the desert. It was an amazing experience where I met 26 other participants in the Arrow Leadership Program. It was interesting because I had a similar experience as many of our campers who come to the Youth Farm Bible Camp for the first time. I knew no one. Not a single person. I was with a group of strangers for five nights, strangers that joined me in a transformational journey to learn how to lead myself.
I enjoyed the activities of the first few days, I was never homesick :) but I did feel a little anxiety and pressure to connect with all these new faces. I learnt so much in such a short stay. I learnt about myself, some hurts and fears that I harbour and needed to let go in "the desert of Arizona". I learnt about my strengths and what brings energy and joy into my life. I recognized the valuable experience I have being raised by caring and loving parents and married to a wonderful and sensitive wife. I understood that I had a strong calling to lead the Youth Farm Bible Camp and should be thankful that my ministry job is so energizing and refreshing.
At first, I was hoping to have a room to myself so I could have a place to go decompress from all the insights I was learning about myself and about leading my life well. But it did not take long to recognize the value of learning with others. The quick moments of debriefing that happened in the room. The realization that there was another person on the same path that I was on, there was comfort in that. I learnt one evening that my 18 year old, Bible School son had started his first meaningful relationship with the opposite gender. It was great to be able to share this with a new friend that was my room mate.
On the first day, Dr, Steve Brown, the Executive Director of Arrow Leadership, led us through a simple dashboard that gives perspective on our spiritual health. He used four specific gauges that emerged from the life of Jesus and can be used for self evaluation and understanding how to grow in obedience to God. His book Leading Me: Eight Practices for a Christian Leader's Most Important Assignment discusses the gauges in more detail.
Gauge #1 - Spiritual Intimacy
We are created for an intimate spiritual relationship with God. It starts with recognizing that we are SO LOVED (our 2017 Camp Theme) and our response back to this love is one of worship. By answering some of the following questions, we can understand where the Spiritual Intimacy gauge is showing for our life (Taken from the Leading Me Book):
1. Do you accept the gift of God's love? Is it easy or hard for you to eternalize?
2. Where do you find your worth? Is your identity in Christ, or in others, or in accomplishments?
3. Which words describe your intimacy with God - dry, distant, neglected, fragile, real, growing, deep, intimate, overflowing?
4. Are you intentional in your Spiritual Disciplines - reading scripture, prayer, worship, solitude, fasting...?
5. Are you depending on and trusting God more than yourself or other things?
Gauge #2 - Character
The depth of our character will tell others how much they can trust us. How much integrity we have. Whether our lives are marked by the fruits of the spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 - love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. "You can lead without character, but character is what makes a leader worth following." Andy Stanley
Gauge #3 - Relational
Jesus life was filled with relationships. He cared for people, healing, touching, listening, teaching and empowering people all over Israel during his life. We are created for relationships. Its why the Youth Farm Bible Camp places such an important emphasis on the two greatest commandments - LOVE GOD and LOVE PEOPLE. We need to foster healthy relationships, care for people who are both across the street and around the globe. We need to engage conflict in healthy, redemptive ways. We needed to be connected to people in a depth that goes farther then Facebook and texting.
Gauge #4 - Service
We find much about the heart of Jesus when he bent down, leaned in and washed the feet of his disciples. As it states in Philippians 2:6-8, "Jesus, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross" Serving the needs of others instead of our own needs is Christlike. It works in marriage, on the job, in leadership, as a parent, and in any other role we have in this world.
These gauges that Steve highlighted are powerful tests to see where we as a Christian define areas that we need to seek growth and spend time adjusting. If we can be healthy in all four areas, we are living in the centre of God's will for our lives!
The core values of the Youth Farm Bible Camp line up succinctly with these four gauges. These core values are what we ask of our staff to develop and show while working at camp and when they leave as stronger servants of Christ. The values are Seek, Sacrifice, Share and Serve.
Seek (Gauge 1 - Spiritual Intimacy)
When we talk about our core value Seek, we define it as growing closer in intimacy with God. We ask our staff to strive for this, as they prepare their hearts to minister at camp, as they are here in the summer (or year round for some of us), and as they leave from their ministry experience at YFBC.
Sacrifice (Gauge 2 - Character)
We believe that a test of character is through our core value Sacrifice. By serving at a ministry their are constant financial and living sacrifices. This is a small part of why we use sacrifice as a core value. As Galatians 2:20 states "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now life in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." Our desire is to die to self and live in Christ. There are varying degrees of how each of us seeks to accomplish this. Great character is shown when self is sacrificed and kingdom values lived out.
Share (Gauge 3 - Relational)
We live year round in community. In summer the community gets pretty intense. We share significantly with each other. We share meals, worship, prayer, activities and much more. Not only do we share our time with each other, we also share our emotions, wisdom and resources. The camp looks more like the Kingdom of God when we learn to share significantly in relationships with others.
Serve (Gauge 4 - Service)
With our campers, we are often serving some basic needs that they require. This can be toileting, showing, cleaning up messes, bandaging wounds, caring for a homesick camper, bringing food to the table, or a multitude of different acts of service. At YFBC we seek to serve our campers, corn maze participants and anyone else that comes onto the yard. We exist to "Share Jesus with People and be a Place to SERVE!
My week in the desert with Arrow was of tremendous value. I saw the capacity for some of my gauges to edge closer to the red line. I learnt what I needed to work on and I was given some of the tools needed to develop more capacity in my leadership and spiritual life. For this, I will be forever grateful.