If you are just picking up on my posts, let me try to give you a quick rundown on my life the past month. My name is David Thompson. I’m a youth pastor and former athlete for Team USA. Every Olympic games, the United States Olympic Committee selects two athletes to serve in a non-competing role. So for the last month, I have lived in the Olympic village and done my best to support, encourage and advocate for the competing athletes. I’ve been blogging about my experiences and how they can help me (and maybe you) become a better youth minister.
I have officially been in Rio for 30 days. As many of you know, being away from family and friends for even just a short term mission trip can be difficult. If I’m being honest, these 30 days away have me missing home and, at times, wishing I was back in Alabama. Isn’t that how it so often goes? When you are in a good place for a long time, you can begin to forget just how good you have it. You are probably thinking, “Are you kidding me? You are at the Olympics…in Rio! Why in the world are you ready to be home?” That’s a valid question. When I step back and list all that I am experiencing, it looks a little like this:
I am living in the Olympic Village in Rio with the best athletes in the world. I am building friendships with people from all over the country and all over the world who are the very best at what they do. I have all the food I want, a great place to workout and exercise, and an amazing place to live.
How is it that I’ve been growing apathetic and feel so ready to be back in the states? This is the case for many of the athletes that I’m interacting with as well. These athletes have trained their whole lives for these two weeks. This is their moment, but many of them are ready to leave. Why is that?
This struggle is one that many of us in youth ministry face. We’re in a good place, some of us a better place than we ever dreamed, yet there is this restless and apathetic feeling that develops after working in the same place for a long time. We can be in a fantastic situation and begin to think about how the grass is greener at a different church, or even in a different job. But as a friend of mine used to say, “the grass is always greener on the other side because they are dealing with so much more crap over there.” Even when you are in the best place or a situation that you have dreamed of, you can still lose perspective.
So yesterday, I sat down and wrote the list from above – the list of all that I’m experiencing. I quickly realized that I am living a dream! This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience and my apathy and time spent “wishing days away” will end up as regret. I decided to challenge myself to regain perspective, to see this with new eyes and a grateful heart. Maybe it’s time for you to make a list as well. Perhaps if you spend time intentionally thinking about all of the incredible opportunities we get to enjoy as ministers, the apathy and restlessness will begin to fade away. Every now and then, we all need that simple reminder: Enjoy the moment!