On Sunday, I presented on the theme of ‘The Power of Courageous Goals’ to the youth service at my local church. In many ways, this was a first for me. It was the first time I had connected this theme directly to my Christian faith in public and it was the first time I had engaged Christian teenagers on this topic. I can honestly say I was terrified at the prospect of both these new frontiers. This was courageous goals both in the talking and in the action.
Yet I found that I stood up, I held the microphone and words started coming out of my mouth, although it felt strangely like an out-of-body experience. I was scanning the sceptical faces of the teenagers, keenly aware that they were sizing me up with the brutal honesty that only teenagers possess. After these necessary and awkward preliminaries, I showed them the ‘moon-shot thinking’ video clip and I could feel the atmosphere in the room shift. I likened the video’s message to the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew – ‘You are the light of the world. A city that is set upon a hill cannot be hidden’. Now they were getting engaged.
I picked up momentum sharing the inspiring stories of, firstly, Alan Campbell’s Olympic medal success and then the story of my eldest son, Robert, who at the age of 16 wrote a book that was featured in the national press, became an Amazon UK best seller and is still selling 350 copies per month some five years after it was self-published. I promised them that before I was a coach, before I was a Christian, I would have laughed off both such audacious possibilities but now I knew that ‘with God everything is possible’. At this stage of the talk, you could have heard a pin drop in the hall.
Finally, I invited a young guy called Dan to come up to the front and read the famous ‘Our Deepest Fear’ passage from Marianne Williamson’s book ‘A Return to. Love’. Dan had, out of the blue, offered to help me just before the service and, as I stood there hearing him innocently proclaiming ‘..your playing small does not serve the world’, I was startled at the fresh impact of these beautiful words coming from a young person’s vantage point.
We broke into groups to share our moon-shots, our dreams, our courageous goals. A girl in my group said softly ‘I want to make a CD of worship music’, another boy said ‘I want to be paid to play football’ and another ‘I want to start a business in Uganda’. ‘Wow’ I replied ‘Wow, wow, wow. Just focus on the wow and don’t worry about the how’. Just focus on the wow. Don’t worry about the how.
We closed in a prayer led by one of the young people. ‘Thank you God for the many gifts and talents you have given us and that with you anything is possible. Thank you that we are the light of the world and that when we shine our light we honour and praise you in this world.’ As these soon-to-be young adults streamed out of the hall, the song ‘Shining Light’ by Duke Special floated after them with the following chorus words – ‘We made a connection, A full on chemical reaction, Brought by dark divine intervention, Yeah, you are a shining light. you light up my life’. I couldn’t work out whether the words were meant for me, for them, or for each and every one of us. The whole experience left me thrilled, confused and humbled in equal measure. The power of courageous goals. A city set upon a hill cannot be hidden.