By: Brian Foreman
February 17, 2017
Caption: Brian Foreman (pictured on left) is the director of the Campbell Youth Theological Institute (CYTI) at Campbell University. CYTI will host their first residential experience in July 2017.
Student reports came home this past week. Both of my children, ages 17 and 13, dutifully presented their work. Per our ritual, I asked each one, “Did you do your best?” Perhaps like many of us, I’ve always encouraged my children to “just do your best” whether in the classroom, on the field, at work or in relationship with friends. I tell them to give their best even when they can’t give 100%. Even if their best is 60%. Even if they fail. If you can look back and say you did your best, I tell them, all is well.
Before arriving at the HSYTI Director’s meeting, I suspected some of our goals, especially with enrollment, might be unrealistic. It did not take long to realize we are good in some places, behind in some areas, and haven’t thought about others. It was a quick spiral from feeling confident to self-doubt, anxiety and frustration.
I wrote in my journal, “We are striving to provide a life-changing experience and relationship with high school students to help them consider how they can live faithfully as ministers in whatever vocation or occupation they find themselves. How are we ever going to get to that point?”
And yet God is faithful, sometimes asking us to re-center a little bit.
Kenda Creasy Dean’s keynote was the starting point of re-focusing for me. In the midst of all my re-centering, God started the rebuilding process, throwing me a lifeline from Kenda’s presentation. “When in doubt, do.” And I realized that I had forgotten my own family’s mantra. That I had been adding the wrong words between the “do” and the period: Do more. Do it right. Do it perfectly.
What should I be adding? When in doubt, do your best.
I didn’t recognize Kenda’s lifeline immediately, but as I participated in peer learning conversations, my small group and dinner conversations, I realized we have done some things really well to date. We have wonderful assets at our disposal which will serve us well. We may even have much work still to do, but to help us get there we have local tools and the learning community of HSYTI colleagues.
My hope is that we will all do our best, even if we fail in parts of the process. I’m grateful for Lilly and FTE’s encouragement to do our best and the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.