For years I would sit in my office all day planning the Youth Event for the week, I would organize, create, contact people, clean, set up, buy food, meet with leaders and by the time the youth actually walked through the doors I would feel like I had just enough energy to give a high five, eat a cookie, then hide back in my office until they all disappeared. I would try to chug a coffee (though, I'm quite sure I've built up an immunity to caffeine), or play basketball with the kids to get the blood pumping. But sometimes I just didn't want to play the games, or pretend like I had energy anymore.
I thought it would actually be better for me to not be there than to be a body in the room with no energy.
I do the same thing with my own kids (9,6,3) at the end of the day, or in the morning, or mid-day. I've become the master of the "Dad is going to lay on the ground while kids climb all over him" game! They think I'm growling like a monster, but I'm actually snoring.
Too often, I choose not to have fun with them because I think it will take too much energy. But, when I do engage, I laugh, I create stories and games, and often end up actually getting some much-needed exercise. So, while having fun does require energy, here's three things it gives us that make the tiredness completely worth pushing through:
3 Things FUN Gives Us:
If you need scientific proof, just watch Patch Adams. Laughter IS the best medicine. Laughter breaks down barriers, it makes us forget about grudges, it shines light in darkness and it magically crosses all languages and cultures. Hearing someone audibly laugh is one of my very favorite things on this planet.
Again, for solid, scientific truth on this, check out Inside Out. Our memory-banks have a place for JOY. I have a few significant, hard to deal with memories of sadness and brokenness from my years of Youth ministry. I have hundreds, probably thousands, of hilariously fun memories. Insane games, inappropriate things said from the stage, silly stories from Jr.high Boys, costumes at halloween, dance parties, and so many more...All my best memories make me smile.
This is the great paradox. And I can't find anyway to prove this through movies, except that I know that after I watch a great (FUN) movie, I want to do stuff afterwards. I think Jr.Highers have the most energy because they know how to have the most fun. On dark, rainy days, it can be hard to find energy, UNTIL you decide to put on your coats and run through the downpour. This is why it is oh-so important to start out ALL Youth Gatherings with some kind of FUN group activity. Get them laughing, create memories, feel the energy in the room rise.
Of course, the brilliant Reggie Joiner has a lot to say about "fun", specifically that
"Fun over time makes a friendship go deeper" (Playing for Keeps)
So, I know you feel like you have nothing to give.
I know you feel like it would be better if you just left the room.
I know you feel tired.
But next time, try to push past those barriers, engage with the fun. Laugh and make them laugh*, make new memories, and feel your adrenaline levels rise.
*Have you ever tried the game with one person, or a group of people, "Fake laugh until its real"? Just tell them you're going to 'fake laugh until its real' and go as long as you want to!