Taking a moment from the madness that is the Lads to Leaders convention in Nashville to tell you that it is still the best tool of which I am aware for developing leadership skills for the church; the church that our children and grandchildren will love and serve in the decades that will round out the 21st century. Watching our West Huntsville kids prepare has made my heart happy for that particular congregation and for the families that Glenn and I love dearly who work there with us. Those families in the program, along with many others who are working in various areas for the Lord, make the elders’ jobs easier and bless the efforts in the pulpit with strength and encouragement.
This year we are taking 32 song leaders to Nashville. THIRTY-TWO young people who are ready to learn to lead in praise. I watched the youngest group last Sunday afternoon in Huntsville as they, one by one, went to that big podium to lead that large crowd in the songs they had chosen as favorites. My voice caught a little as four-year-old Timothy Johnson, whose mother is just finishing up the last of her three cancer surgeries for this year sang “Tarry with me, blessed Savior…Tarry with me ‘frew de night’”. Sometimes this year I have felt a little of the darkness of night, too. But when I get to this place, I am strengthened. I am motivated to look to the young…and be better for the Lord.
it was 25 years ago that we drove up to the Presidential lobby, dressed our son Caleb in his coat and tie, right there in the car, and rushed him in to his very first Lads event. We had no idea we were entering, through that Presidential Lobby, one of the most spiritually influential activities of our lives. We did not know about that year when our two children would be entering a combined total of 26 events. We did not know about the foot blisters, the year Hannah’s “Art Says It” entry would be entered as 11th grade when she was really 11 YEARS OLD, the many visits the Easter Bunny would make to this hotel, and that our family would eventually be participating in five different conventions around the Southeast U.S. We didn’t know about those 8 huge scrapbooks that are upstairs in our guest room, chronicling our kids’ teen years—books with which we could never part. We didn’t know that little Maggie Colley, who will be born next July would have her gender-reveal in Orlando this year with huge pink balloons tied to a chair in the Lakeside section of that big ballroom. We didn’t know yet about all the years we would lose hair bows, pitch pipes, scripts, and competitions, while winning confidence, lifetime friendships, character development and memories.
As I finish this post, I’ve returned home from the convention. This year, our Lads experience took on a whole new dimension. Our first participant in a new generation of Colleys led his very first song in Governor’s Ballroom A at 4:30 last Saturday afternoon. I did not know, when that gentleman called out “Number nine”, that my heart was just going to walk right up there and sing “When we walk with the Lord…In the light of His Word.” I basked in every syllable and especially in that truth that 3-year-old Ezra can sing with all of his might, but cannot yet fully comprehend: “There is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” I hope he will know, for all of his lifetime, the happiness that comes from that trusting obedience. What a glory He sheds on our way!