Nora Ephron: You wrote on the back of one album, “I accept chaos but does chaos accept me.”
Bob Dylan: Chaos is a friend of mine. It’s like I accept him, does he accept me.
I have “Chaos is a friend of mine” tattooed around my left ankle. I have loved Bob Dylan’s music since I was too young to understand any of it. Once I saw him in concert a few years ago, when he walked on stage and began singing, I cried.
The tattoo was partly an homage to him, to this voice of a generation generations before my own voice was born. And it was also a truth of my existence. At twenty years old as I decided on the next ink that I would carry with me, those words continued to stand out to me. Chaos is a friend of mine. It was true in my organized chaotic early twenties, and has continued into my adulthood. It’s funny, I had a supervisor once describe me as “hyper-organized”, and yet that organization comes out of this place of chaos.
And this idea of organization out of chaos, of organized chaos, is never more true than in youth ministry. Now, these are my experiences alone working with kids, having a kid, and honestly getting to enjoy the child-like energy in my every day life. Although this post might be specific to youth ministry, I wonder how you might use this organized chaos in your life too.
Step 1: Organization
So, just because youth ministry and working with kids in general is chaotic, that does not mean there is no organization. Organization is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. Maybe I’m too organized, but as this blog is being posted, we are in the middle of our Vacation Bible School at our church. Let me tell you – a lot of planning, scheduling, and organizing has gone into this week of fun.
Part of this organization out of chaos, is working the chaotic energy of little voices into your plans. Having back up plans if more kids show up than you thought prepares you for when one kid shows up. Having a tool-kit of games, crafts, and story times under your belt really helps. Like a lot. It makes a big difference with my own toddler to have a laundry list of options to go through before finally giving up and putting on Daniel Tiger. And it means that because of my over-planning, hyper-organized self, I can accept the chaos.
Step 2: Chaotic Everything
And hey look, with all that planning and organization, means that you know where your guide posts are. Kiddos are loving the energy-spending game of running back and forth across the fellowship hall. Awesome! Let’s keep doing it! The amount of decibels coming out of the faith room is sort of out of control, but are the kids praying their hearts out as they scream “amen”? Yes? Well…we might grab some ear plugs for next week.
Bob Dylan said it best, “chaos is a friend of mine”, I have accepted it, and like Dylan, I don’t always know if it has accepted me. But luckily, that chaotic, excited energy that our kids bring to ministry and to our lives helps us to recognize and plan for that old friend, so that we can truly be there in those crazy moments of our lives.