carrying capacity

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (Psalm 23:5)

It is a good thing blessings are not in short supply, because if they were, there wouldn’t be much left for anybody else. I can hardly contain it all. Since I’m saying this after having led a small group of no fewer than 10 6th grade boys tonight, most people would call me absolutely nuts. But I can’t imagine a better way to have spent my night. (Apparently there was some speech on TV, but I’ll hear plenty about that eventually.) After small group time was over, I enjoyed connecting with a junior I had helped edit a video to ask his girlfriend to homecoming last fall. I was also chatting on Facebook with one of the 7th grade guys I had connected with last year when he “one of mine.” So cool when they still talk to me later.

I wish I could do this all the time, but then again I don’t. I think it’s exactly because I do this purely for non-monetary reasons that I experience so much success. I may have a new “gig” soon… I had an interview yesterday for a full time videographer job. I won’t share too much yet, but I believe it would be a fantastic fit. If I do get it, a lot in our lives will change. The interviewers expressed a willingness to be flexible enough to allow me to continue in my role with the student ministries, as well as being a volunteer youth leader. That may look different down the road, but it’s good to know I can still do both for now. I had the first official meeting about the impending senior video project this afternoon. It will certainly be a monumental task as always, but we’re taking some intentional steps toward making my life a little more sane this time around. The bottom line is – I can’t do it all.

That definitely holds true in ministry as well as work. I love all 35+ of the 6th grade boys that are on our roster and that are my “charges.” I am crazy about every one of the 19 we had attend tonight, including 3 that had never come before. I would do anything for the 10 that were in my small group for a few minutes to share life and pray. But when it comes down to the deeper levels of ministry, nobody, paid or volunteer, can sustain more than a few transformative relationships.

There are about 6 guys that I have been invited to games, concerts, etc. for. I have spent one-on-one or one-on-two time with 5 of them. And there is one boy – call him “Ben” – that I have spent weekly time with since November (I wrote about that early in December). It is this handful of boys that I really have been able to pour into. Some of these that I have connected with are leaders within the group, so it is strategic as well as rewarding. One I had the privilege of leading to Christ at camp last July (read more).  Ben lost his dad in October, and I have been so blessed with his friendship and trust at a very painful time.

Just like Dunbar’s number postulates that you can really only maintain about 150 stable social relationships (I don’t know what to do about my other 1200 Facebook connections!), as a volunteer with limited time I can only invest significantly into a certain number of kids. That’s the blessing of working with a great team. Quite honestly, there are kids I do not easily connect with. Others have “chosen” me regardless of any specific effort on my part. It is part of the ebb and flow of relational ministry. We can always use more help, but with the team that’s in place and with the guys that keep coming in droves, I feel like we’re doing a pretty good job. It’s better to go deep with a few than be shallow with everyone.

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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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