What can make or break a college student's self-esteem in mere seconds?
A trip to the post office.
For years I've been listening to Peder Eide talk about Taste Worship's family bonding activities. My family is mostly grown, lives in three states, and refuses to participate in anything I suggest. I'm sick of waiting for a future family to apply the things I'm learning.
Last week I began to ponder: what about my Ministry Team Family? We're a group of ten students who go out in the community and lead youth retreats, lock-ins, Wednesday nights, etc. We spend time weekly sharing life by praying for each other, talking about what God has been teaching us lately, sharing our testimonies, doing devotions, etc.
Like all good ideas, what if? What if we all do our own Project 25? The idea is that you write, "I love you because" on the top of a piece of paper and then list 25 reasons why you love a particular family member. Well, 25 things I love about that person is a lot to come up with for someone I met six months ago and see once a week for an hour.
The what ifs continued and out popped Project 7. I immediately facebooked the idea to my co-leader. If I hadn't, I probably would have chickened out. My mailbox was empty that day and thus so was my self-esteem.
By the strength of the Holy Spirit, I pitched the idea to my team. What if every day for the next seven days we as a team were each going to anonymously encourage a certain team member? Lift them up in prayer, affirm them, mail them Bible verses and candy, etc. I really thought they'd think it lame. (Mailbox was empty that day, too). I told them to be creative.
We exchanged names and went on our way. I prayed everyone would participate so no one was left out. I had no idea how God would use a silly "What If?" idea.
I saw three excited facebook status updates thanking their Project Seven person.
Taste Worship sent out the Project 25 idea. I realized how far we've come from the original idea!
One girl told me she was loving sending her Project Seven person anonymous notes. It took some prodding to figure out she was not receiving anything but she didn't mind. (Her sender was home sick).
God used my Project Seven Person to encourage me exactly how I needed it that day.
Blew! My! Mind! A friend not on my team cornered me in the caf.
"Hypothetically, if my Project Seven person lives in your apartment and I, hypothetically, had something to leave on her bed. Would you, hypothetically, let me in?"
Hypothetically, how did you learn about Project Seven?
Another team stole the idea and were participating as well! How awesome is that?
I began to get emails and text messages, "Are we going to do this again next week?! We're not meeting this week because of the Green Bay Packers bringing the Lombardi Trophy home to Titletown, can we keep sending our person stuff?"
I have a gift in my backpack to slide into a friend's backpack tomorrow... on behalf of my roommate who didn't have any idea that this whole cockamamie scheme developed in her own bedroom.
God multiplied a simple "What if?" idea and used it well beyond what I could have ever dreamed! The only credit I can take is obediently following the prompting of the Spirit.
Some of our creative ideas:
- campus mailed handwritten notes containing encouragement and Bible verses and accompanied with candy bars (campus mail is free)
- a card with seven note cards: one for each day (sent through real mail... postage paid)
- notes slid under dorm room doors
- affirming text messages sent from blocked numbers
- a phone call on behalf of a Project Seven Person with a personal, encouraging message.
And unlike most things that happen in my suite, Project Seven has stayed anonymous. No one wants to be figured out! They want to keep it a secret and guess at our next meeting. Our next meeting we will, by popular demand, re-exchange names and do it again, getting more creative as the semester progresses.
Two lessons here:
1. Let the Holy Spirit use you. Don't make our self-esteem depended on what you receive (or don't receive) in the mail. Be willing to be bold.
2. A little bit of encouragement goes a long, long way. The knowledge that someone is praying for you is HUGE!
PS: Feel free to take this idea and use it as you and the Lord see fit.