I’ll admit it: I love airports. I actually enjoy having a bit of a layover in airports so that I can explore a bit. It fascinates me that each airport has it’s own distinct feel. From the art they display to the food they serve, each airport is designed to give you a better understanding of their city. You can’t miss the smell of fresh beignets in the New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport and you get the feel that you are walking through a huge mall when you fly through the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.
And, I have my favorite airports (thanks, San Diego and Seattle!) right alongside the ones that I inwardly moan when I realize I’ll be traveling through them (LAX and New York’s LaGuardia). I know my favorite terminals in Atlanta and know just where I need to be at my home airport of Nashville to make it to my gate on time.
Why do I love airports? Because we’re all going somewhere and we need to know where we are going.
As young adult ministry leaders we have the opportunity to help young adults in our churches navigate where they are going as they set off on the adventures that lie before them. They will need people along the way to point them in the right direction and to cheer them on as they grasp what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
From an airport junkie to all my young adult ministry friends, here’s what I’ve learned from airports:
1. Don’t get ahead of yourself.
When making our way through the airport we’re usually preoccupied with that vacation spot we will be at in a few hours or the meeting that we will be in charge of when we land in that next city. We sometimes forget that we are in a city/airport along the way that might have something to teach us or show us.
So often young adults are looking for that “next” job, the “next” relationship, or the “next” place they are going to move to—and they completely miss out on the opportunities right in front of them. When we are consumed with the “next” that we miss the now.
God has young adults in a certain place at a certain time for a specific reason. When we are always looking for the “next,” we might miss an opportunity to share the hope of Jesus or to learn from a seasoned follower of Christ that has been placed in our journey. Make it your goal to help young adults to never miss the now.
“We haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:9-10
2. There may be some delays along the journey.
We’ve all heard that one announcement. You know what I’m talking about. It always begins with the dreaded phrase: “Attention passengers, we will be experiencing a delay because of weather.” And we all take a heavy sigh.
We have gotten so good at planning, it seems when something deters our schedule it can completely throw us for a loop.
Young adults are going to face the delays along the way. How will we help them when the job does not present itself like everyone thought? What do we do when young adults in our group experience the heartache of a well-thought-out plan that goes south? There are going to be delays!
The waiting can be a sweet learning time and an opportunity to deepen a trust in the sovereignty of the Lord. Delays aren’t easy but they are sometimes necessary.
“I wait for Yahweh; I wait and put my hope in His word.” Psalm 130:5
3. Pay attention to the signs.
I’ve had some airports that have excellent signage that lead me directly to luggage claim and to the rental car counter. Accurate signs have made many trips easy and quick.
When young adults pay attention to the Words of Scripture, there is a confidence in the path that they’re taking. As young adult ministry leaders, we have the opportunity to help them fall in love with the Word of God. We can help them see that it can be trusted in its commands and teachings for the journey ahead of them. They may not know exactly where they are going, but they’ll be wise not to neglect the words of Scripture that will guide their decisions, their path, and their passions.
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Who knew that airports could show us so much about the work that we do with young adults? Are there other areas that you would suggest?
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.