Part of my philosophy of ministry is that teens are to learn and take responsibility for the different elements that make a youth group work, I seek to constantly be equipping others with the knowledge of how the sound board works, how to operate mediashout in order to organize worship lyrics and on screen graphics, and then how lighting is controlled. My usual method involves asking the interested student to come early before a youth worship service. This weeds out those who are serious about doing tech from those who merely have a whim. Then, I give them a rundown of the basics of whatever station they want to learn. Depending on how confident the student is, I like to begin putting together the morning script on the computer with the student looking on and soon I ask the student to take over while shadowing them and providing assistance as the student runs up against problems. I then hover until the student can be trusted to run the station independantly. Eventually, however, something funny would happen, and I garauntee that this has or will happen to your tech team or if you have ever had new volunteers running anything live in the past: The student that I had just entrusted with responsibility, and who had all the knowledge needed to perform the task, whose demeanor showed that he or she no longer needed my help – would fail. It would different for every student. One would forget to cue lyrics for a worship song, another would forget to turn up sound for a video, and another would not cue the video at all. The worship leader, or speaker would call attention to something promised to be amazing, and the impact of the media would be dullened by a severe delay. Eventually I would snap to get the students attention and quickly the media would be cued. Eventually, this moment would be forgotten by everyone except the student who experienced it. What was a few seconds to most, was an eternity for the youth pastor/leader, and hopefully the student learned something new – To be aware.
Awareness is a basic underlining key to discipline. If a construction worker daydreams while holding a jack hammer, they lose control and damage property. When a lawyer loses focus, cases for potentially innocent people are lost and guilty people are not prosecuted correctly. When a captain of a fishing factory goes into Arctic waters, the radar must be constantly watched to find the catch, or the workers don’t get paid. A basic pillar of community is awareness of the self, and one another so that communication may become the foundation for a stable society.
There are also levels of awareness. Someone walking down a wooded street may walk down thinking of a check list they must accomplish once the walk is done. Another person may walk down the same street and notice that the leaves are a bright green with a yellow tint because the sun is peaking over the canopy just slightly. They may realize the beauty and symmetry of the moment in such a profound way that they are unable to leave the scene without memorizing every branch, savoring the sound of every bird, and feeling the asphalt’s gritty texture beneath one’s foot. They may even find it as a moment for prayer, thanking God for the beauty of creation. One is slightly aware, the other is very aware, and has engaged the feelings associated with things, as well as the meaning of the moment as it connects to the rest of their life. The ground becomes sacred, and the story of the encounter may be told to others. Eventually it is a poem, and a century later a plaque is erected in that spot, and tourism may develop. Imagine, billions of people being constantly aware.
I suppose this is what it felt like to be alive during the American Revolution. As I read wikipedia articles on how many people were involved in America’s birth, and the pure reflective power that eminated from our people, I sometimes wonder if that spirit of awareness and engagement still exists in our culture. People sure complain about what is wrong with America enough on talk radio and in televised media, but how many people are looking for little problems in their own communities that they can engage with and begin to solve if they are not being paid. How many people are trying to convince their neighbors that they don’t have to live among trash littered parks? How many citizens are organizing and volunteering to reorganize inefficient government services? I suppose people think that the government is just there, but is it possible that someone might give up their evening entertainment a few nights a week to visit the people in their neighborhood and organize to meet the needs of those around them? They would discover so many unique needs, and in that process learn more of what it means to be human. Certainly, the threshholds of how much an individual can do would have to increase, but that is the wonder of discipline. The more good work that is completed, the more we flex our muscles, and the more we are able to do in the future. New revolutions are possible in every community when people become aware and model thy for others.
It is hard to describe Awareness without metaphors and stories, and one story that exeplifies awareness is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As I read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, I never get the sense that Jesus is not exactly aware of his surroundings, nor is he unaware of the people and the thoughts of those around him. He masters every situation without a spare word. It could be possible that there were times when Jesus did not have such keen awareness (like when he was groggily getting out of bed in the morning and making some coffee, or whatever they had with breakfast), but it seems clear that when Jesus was ministering and walking with the people, his focus was keen. So much so that at one point a bleeding woman touches his clothes, and she is healed of her illness. Jesus turns and asks, “who has touched my robe?” And this happened in the midst of a crowd. Christ was so aware of everything unfolding around him, that a mere touch with was recognized, and he called to the woman and celebrated her faith. It is a magnificent scene of awareness beyond what is normal.
Jesus Christ is God, and we are just people, right? Do we really need to be aware as Christ was aware? I beleive so. As bearers of Gods Image, part of our destiny as caretakers of Gods world is to be aware of our own identity and who He has made us to be in reflection of His goodness, putting our propensity to do evil to the side. Once self aware, we are able to begin reaching out to our communities to find out how to make life worth living for one another, hand in hand with Gods spirit working in this world, telling people about how awesome Gods Kingdom is and always will be. Being aware is part of how good things grow. Being aware of God, ourselves, and our surroundings allows us to become and act more fully human. When walking down the street, is it better to have your eyes open, or shut? For everyone’s sake, keep your eyes open! We can keep our eyes on the screens when videos are to be cued by the tech team and we can listen when others are talking about life and its ups and downs. We can begin a life of discipline by being aware and it is a discipline in itself. The unaware are incapable of changing the world for the better.
So – How are you aware? If so, at what level? And lastly, how much more aware can you become?