I was that youth that was involved in everything in school. Volleyball, Basketball, Track & Field, Student Council, Junior Class Board, Yearbook, British Literature Club, Chamber Choir, Madrigals, Marching Band AND youth group and youth group activities. Ever since I was young, I had the opportunity to be a part of pretty much whichever group I wanted to. I was privileged and blessed. BUT I never wanted to have any part of travel sports after one summer with the travel softball team. When I grew older, I couldn’t work on Sunday morning because that was God’s time. And the only reason my parents let me work on Sunday afternoon, is because the rest of my week was filled with all those activities I was involved with. My group of friends I would hang out with changed based on which activity I was currently in because of scheduling. Today, I wouldn’t change anything because I chose to do that.
My parents never made me participate in an activity that I didn’t want to. They resisted the urge to push me to be better at something, put more hours into one thing so that I could get a scholarship, so I could get into the best schools, so I could…..who knows what reasons they had. (I did play volleyball in college, but Division 3 = no scholarships for activities) And I’m glad they did….because I do know that my friends whose parents pushed them in one activity, one area of their life, or maybe even had those parents who were trying to live their dreams out through their kids….grew to hate that activity OR made it an idol in their life OR completely shut out their family later in life. And throughout my career, my teammates that had played travel ball seemed to be missing that little girl insides of them that still loved just playing the game. I didn’t want to lose that little girl inside.
During that summer with travel ball, my parents WOULD NEVER let me skip the church service for a game. I could never skip out early for lunch with my friends…Sunday was for God and for family. Did I grumble and grown the whole day about that decision? Yes I did, I admit that. But what I didn’t see then was that my parents were reminding me that remembering the Sabbath was a gift. To take a time to STOP all of those activities and be reminded of who created me to be, who provided me with all those opportunities, THAT was more powerful than any skill I could have acquired from a school activity and I didn’t even realize that gift until after college.
After reading this book Overplayed, I just kept saying, “yea!….Yes!!!….ahhh YES! They get it! Can every single parent or leader read this book please?!” Our youth these days have a lot of pressures and a lot of responsibility and a LOT of expectations put on them. Is some of those things bad? No, not at all! What this book is saying to me is that we can’t let our goals, our passions, our dreams and OUR idea of what life should be….those things can never grow BIGGER or MORE IMPORTANT to us than Our Creator, Our Lord.
For this playlist, it’s a mix of this reminder not to overplay our youth, but also a reminder for us as leaders to pause and enjoy what God has gifted us with! To remind us to step back from our activities (because being in ministry, we have the tendency to do as much as we can…right?) to say it’s okay if we don’t achieve the American Dream! To remind us to enjoy the moments we have before they’re gone.
~Ashley Litwiller is pastor of worship at youth at Arthur Mennonite, Arthur, IL. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to share your favorite songs to include in upcoming monthly playlists!
Why These Songs Were Chosen , and a great tool to use as conversation starters with your own youth groups:
1) “Stressed Out” by Twenty One Pilots
“My name is ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think” Our kids are so stressed out! This song is popular because it is how a lot of our youth feel with all the pressures put on them at ages 14 & 15….before they can even drive!
2) “Chain Breaker” by Zach Williams
“If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker” We only need to ask God to remove the chains of what we are slaves to, and he will wash us clean and set us free!!!
3) “Dear Younger Me” by MercyMe
“Do I give some speech about how to get the most out of your life or do I go deep and try to change the choices that you’ll make cause they’re the choices that make me” We can’t make our youth change their minds, we are not their parents. We can lay out what can happen with the different choices we make and pray that God speaks to them.
4) “Slow Down” by Nichole Nordeman
I added this song to remind us of how our parent feels about us. No matter what we do, they are cheering for us…they are for us! God is enjoying every step of our journey with us.
5) “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns
“Hold it all together, everybody needs you strong….you’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.” We need to remind our youth that they are not alone, and we are here with them through these things that stress them out, but more importantly, God will be with them for life. Turn to the ultimate comforter!
6) “Through Your Eyes” by Britt Nicole
“Get it together…I put on the pressure, you can do better, be who you’re supposed to be” Our youth put pressure on themselves too. Let us remind them what they look like through God’s eyes!
7) “The God I Know” by Love & the Outcome
“I threw my hands up, worries down…no strings attached when he saved my soul…you gotta know the God I know” –Remember that God tells us that if we believe in Him and follow him, we need to leave our worries, fears, dreams, broken hearts, stressed out souls in from of the Cross. He gives us freedom in that!
8) “You Never Let Me Down” by Marvin Winans Jr
— “you picked me up when I was down…” When we lose a contest or fail on a project, we often start that downward spiral. But when we think we fail, God is still in control. He is there to pick us up or remind us how much He loves us
9) “Every Giant Will Fall” by Rend Collective
“Nothing is impossible with you” No matter what is overplaying you or stressing you out, God can concur anything. He is on your side….just ask Him forward and sit back and watch the excellence that will come!
10) “Air I Breathe” by Mat Kearney
“It’s the same fight all over again” – These fights will continue our whole lives. Let’s remember who our Breath is!
11) “Let Them Be Little” by Billy Dean
“Let them hope, give them praise, give them love every day.” Our youth are pretty awesome, otherwise we wouldn’t be youth leaders. We learn from them! Let’s remember to step back from pushing our goals for them just enough to see where God is leading them.
12) “Intentional” by Travis Greene
“All things are working for my good” This is just a great reminder that everything God has for us are for our good! His are better! Spend time with God to let him tell you what His plans are for you, for your youth, for your family.
13) The Well by JJ Heller
“I followed my heart and it led me astray….I was chasing the wind, I should’ve chasing you” Sometimes we get sidetracked on our own little side projects. Let us keep going to the Well for our wisdom and strength.
14) “That’s What I Love about Sunday” by Craig Morgan
— “Not do much of anything, that’s what I love about Sundays” Remember those times where you just relax in the joy of peace of mind, praising the lord with your church family, catnapping, taking walks, etc. Let’s not let our schedules get so filled that we forget to Sabbath and remember that He is in control and it’s okay to rest without it adding more to our resumes or college applications.
15) “King of the World” by Natalie Grant
–“I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed. I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye.” Our human nature tells us that if we don’t do something, it won’t get done! But our God tells us to be still and KNOW that He is God….not us. I believe the King of the World can handle much more than I possibly could dream of.