My much-anticipated catch-up session with a youth minister got off to an auspicious start this evening. Upon entering my favorite Japanese restaurant, I told the owner that I would need a table for two. As one of the waiters led me to a table, a woman who I didn’t know entered the restaurant immediately after me. Somehow, the waiter thought that the woman was with me (my wife wouldn’t have been too happy) and somehow the woman remarkably didn’t see me sit in the booth first. Once she sat down she finally looked at me across the table. Slightly embarrassed, she gasped “Oh sorry…I thought that he was seating ME.” She quickly made her way to another table as I tried to stifle my laughter.
An honest mistake to be sure. And in retrospect I don’t blame her for wanting to sit with me. Kidding. Sort of. But not really.
But her innocent presumption got me thinking of the many times we make presumptions in youth ministry. And as in this case, they often turn out wrong.
On our Alaskan cruise last month, we went to get family portraits done in the ship’s photography studio. The 30-minute shoot went very quickly, and at its conclusion we booked an appointment to go back later in the week to look at the pictures (and perhaps buy some).
We decided that 4 of us would go: Gail, my brother Jason, my mom Joyce, and me. We felt that this particular combination of people would give us the best chance of making a good decision without paying too much.
We all had our particular roles too.
I was the “Schmoozer” (surprise surprise) and my job was to break the ice and create a comfortable atmosphere before we talked big bucks.
Remember the good old days when we would get to know someone better by spending time with him?
Like in the same physical vicinity as him. And actually talking to him.
Not via text. Or Twitter. Or email. Or Facebook.
One-on-one. Face to face.
I’m not going to go on an anti-social media rant or diatribe here. Obviously, I see its merits and understand the blessings that come with it.
But I also see the challenges. In an effort to be more efficient with our time and more strategic in our approach – whether in youth ministry or in general life – we sometimes get caught up in the quantity of our relationships and not the quality of them.
This past Tuesday night, I (along with Sean) was the blessed to be an “accomplice” in my buddy Mike’s marriage proposal to his girlfriend Jennifer. It was an amazing and unforgettable night, in large part because Jenn had no idea that the proposal was coming and she was caught completely off-guard.
Thankfully, she said yes…haha.
Mike had been planning the proposal for the past two months, and in the last week in particular we exchanged a flurry of emails, texts, and phone calls as we finalized the details. Our plan was quite elaborate and quite brilliant if I may say so myself…as was the execution. The acting on the other hand….
My sons Sean and Jacob were chosen to proclaim the readings at the Christmas Eve Mass at our home parish of St. Paul’s last week. Both of them prepared very diligently – and it was indeed an honour that our pastor asked the two brothers to read at such an important celebration.
We arrived 40 minutes early so the boys could practice everything from their approach to how they would stand behind the microphone. Once Mass started, Jake was first up. For some reason – despite knowing that he was to read from the right side of the book – he proceeded to read from the left page. Thus, he was reading the wrong thing.
A few words in, Jake caught himself, took a deep breath, and simply said, “I’m sorry” before embarking on the correct reading. He completed the reading from Isaiah perfectly, unnerved by the 400-plus people in attendance. As he returned to his seat, I leaned over and whispered to him, “Good job, son.”