january people

I have decided that working out is bad for me. I can work out at Burger King.

Oh good gosh. The guy in the locker room who I overheard saying this was dangerously, well, endomorphic. The shape of his body would put him at high risk for all kinds of health problems, possibly even the hideous constellation of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome. Now, I admire the guy for making it as far as the end of a workout. Any effort is laudable.

The trouble is, I don’t have much reason to believe I will see him working out two weeks from now. If that holds true, he falls into a calamitous group sometimes called the “January People.” You know, those folks who rush out and sign up for a gym membership in their New Year’s excitement, but come February they are out of there. Too much work.

Call me cynical, or just selfish, but I’m pretty ambivalent about January People as far as my own gym experience goes. Even without the mounds of still-unmelted snow taking up prime parking spots, the lot is always way too full this time of year. And the locker room, and the gym floor. I wish them the best, but the time-tested reality is that most of them will disappear pretty soon. (By the way, I truly intend this to be my last gym-centric post for a while.)

Last night was our first night to meet with the middle schoolers mid-week since Christmas. We would have met last week if not for the snowstorm that afternoon. We had twenty-one 6th grade boys! As far as I could tell, virtually all of our guys that ever come regularly were there. Usually there’s a core that come pretty much every week, and the rest come within the span of 2-3 weeks. But every single one of them was there last night.

What caused this serendipitous attendance boost, I won’t venture a guess. But I really hope we don’t have a January People effect in play. I’ve always felt a sense of foreboding when I read the parable of the sower. On one hand, one can feel a sense of personal defeat and chalk it up to being “bad soil.” On the other, it put an interesting twist on sharing the message of Jesus. We can easily slip from a healthy, unstressed enterprise, relying on God’s Spirit to do the work we cannot and should not do, to an unhealthy passivity justified by hyper-determinism.

There are a myriad of factors that shape the longevity of a student’s involvement in church, if not his commitment to Christ. The one factor I can personally guarantee control of is my own presence. When I am relentlessly consistent, without nagging, a student has a safe, welcoming place to return to, even after a long absence. Sort of like a Father I know.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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  • Jen Purling-Baker

    Wow! Awesome! I’m enjoying your posts be they gym-centric or not. This year I have resolved to rest in God’s grace and to allow God to lead me into real, lasting change as opposed to short lived works of the flesh. Thank you for the insight and yet another incredibly well-written piece!

    • http://www.andrewburden.com andrew burden

      (trying a new method of comment replies) Again, I so appreciate the affirmation and I’m glad my thinking encourages you. If there are others within your sphere of influence that might benefit from reading, especially youth leaders and parents, please pass along the URL. And hover your mouse over the “ShareThis” logo for options to share in scads of venues.

      Thanks so much!

  • Jen Purling-Baker

    Wow! Awesome! I’m enjoying your posts be they gym-centric or not. This year I have resolved to rest in God’s grace and to allow God to lead me into real, lasting change as opposed to short lived works of the flesh. Thank you for the insight and yet another incredibly well-written piece!

  • Jen Purling-Baker

    Wow! Awesome! I’m enjoying your posts be they gym-centric or not. This year I have resolved to rest in God’s grace and to allow God to lead me into real, lasting change as opposed to short lived works of the flesh. Thank you for the insight and yet another incredibly well-written piece!

    • http://thisisnotabout.me andrew burden

      (trying a new method of comment replies) Again, I so appreciate the affirmation and I’m glad my thinking encourages you. If there are others within your sphere of influence that might benefit from reading, especially youth leaders and parents, please pass along the URL. And hover your mouse over the “ShareThis” logo for options to share in scads of venues.

      Thanks so much!