Every Tuesday and Thursday morning, my alarm goes off at 4:40am. I love the alarm. My wife recorded it for me when I got my Iphone, and it says, “Wake up sunshine, it’s morning time, and I LOOOOOOVVVVEEEEE you!” I hear my wife’s voice, a smile comes on my face, but then it’s time to start getting focused on the work that lies ahead of me. I shuffle into the kitchen to get my V8 Fusion energy drink, eat a banana, and I’m out the door. By 5am, I’m walking through the doors of the local Y, just bursting with excitement for the workout. It’s all I can do to wait around until 5:15 when we actually start.
The group has grown over the year. Really, it started with two guys who love to swim, and love to swim hard, while at the same time desire to help others get better in what many consider the scariest (though shortest) part of a triathlon. One day, one of them looked at me and said, “You’re swimming with us.” I was intimidated. These guys, in my view, were perfect and amazing when it came to swimming. They didn’t need me slumming in the lane with or next to them. I wasn’t good enough.
Yet they embraced having me there anyway. They would take their workouts, and tweak it so I could do it. They would help my form, and encourage me every single morning I was there. A month later, we started what we now call the OMC Masters Swim, and more and more began to come. We’ve got slow swimmers, fast swimmers, skinny swimmers, and well, I’m in it, so fat swimmers. We’ve got doctors, lawyers, architects, money embezzlers (inside joke with a girl named Kristin), IT guys, and even a preacher. We differ politically, spiritually, and economically, but when Brad tells us to get swimming, we get swimming. We’re there for a common purpose: To become the best triathlon swimmers we can possibly become.
What has happened over the last year is that we have developed a community and a culture that breeds improvement, and though we compete with each other every workout, at the end, we are friends that just wants to see the one to your right and your left get better than they were the workout before. That may mean we have to sacrifice aspects of our workout for the betterment of the group. That may mean we don’t get to swim in the lane with our buddy (I want to cry when I don’t get to swim in the lane with Jeff and Brad P.). We do it, though!
The next time I’m a youth pastor, I hope my group looks like that Masters group. A diverse group of young men and young women who join together to accomplish what the church is supposed to accomplish and do. To love God with all of their hearts, and to love people. To set aside selfishness, and other negative things that unfortunately many label youth groups with, and be a group that’s all about helping the student to their right, and the student to their left grow and become more like Christ. I want to guide these students, making disciples, because that’s what God desires. I want to help foster an environment that seeks to make that happen. I just hope I get the chance someday.