I still remember where I was when Jen, the program director of Summit Colorado, called me and told me that she wanted my help as summer staff. I was driving home after a long day of college classes last spring. When she told me she wanted to have me as part of the summer staff team, I started tearing up! All I can recall is thanking her over and over for the opportunity to spend a whole summer as a part of a place that, as a student, had changed my life forever.
The second I hung up the phone the whirlwind of excitement and preparation for the summer began. I told everyone I talked to that day that I was going to Summit this summer to staff. Many of them were excited for me; some of them were confused as to why I was quitting my job, packing up, and dedicating my time to a camp they had never heard of — but I knew it was going to be worth it. All the way back in March, though, I could never have imagined all of the ways God was going to use this place in my own life and in the lives of others during this summer of 2015.
As a staffer, I’ve been stretched, grown, encouraged, guided, and, most importantly, loved by a community of some of the most inspirational peers I have ever met. Staffing at Summit is so much more than a summer job. It’s an extraordinary journey through the process of providing as many students as possible the truth of God’s word paired fundamentally with the love that is His nature.
Over the course of the last eight weeks, I have been able to see Summit in a very different light than many of the other staffers in both a figurative and literal sense. This summer, my job was being a part of the legendary Night Watch team of Summit. I was able to stay up all night, every night and protect the Hotel and all of the students inside. Among many things that being on Night Watch has taught me and one aspect of the job that stands out among the rest, is the way it helped me to better understand what it means to be a leader.
Although Night Watch seems like an epic job filled with fighting off bears and carrying walkie-talkies, the type of staff leadership that my team and I were called to fulfill was not always as glamorous as the job might imply. Being on Night Watch means being a leader who isn’t always in front. I sleep during the majority of every day, and my job begins as everyone else is going to sleep.
However, this summer I have gotten just a taste of what it means to lead by serving. Jesus said in Matthew 20:25, “…You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Being on Night Watch has shown me that some of the greatest acts of leadership are often the ones that go on when no one else is watching. One of those aspects is that of prayer. The prayers of Night Watch are a piece of Summit that many people never see. A very special spot on the Summit Ministries property to me is a place called Prayer Point. This is a secluded spot on a hill over looking the town where the Night Watch of the summer go every hour on their rounds throughout the night and set aside time to pray.
The Bible says in Matthew 18:20 that were two or more are gathered in the name of Christ, He is in their midst. As we made our rounds in pairs of two and stopped to talk to God on Prayer Point, we were able to see, time after time, the way God keeps that promise. I have been blessed by the privilege of lifting up our Summit leaders and amazing students up in prayer all night while they sleep. I have hoped that the students know that, while they are here, not an hour goes by, during the day or the night that they are not loved. Whether it has been by comforting students who can’t sleep, mopping the kitchen floors, or kneeling beside their desks and lifting them up in prayer to our Father, God has taught me that leading well is about serving well. And God’s greatest calling for us, no matter if we are the ones standing in the front or the ones no one ever sees, is to love God with all of our heart and mind, and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. I’m so thankful that Summit has given me the opportunity to be a part of both.
Being a Summit staffer is so much fun. It’s challenging and it’s exhausting, but it’s so fun. Summit has taught me things about myself, about others, and about the Lord that I never would have thought I would learn here. I have been able to watch lives change for the glory of God all summer, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I remember getting to Summit that second week of May before all the students and many of the staff arrived and watching the hotel lay dark and empty. Then, within one short week, I saw the people of God breathe life into a place that would otherwise be just another old hotel. Without an overflow of God’s love, this place would be nothing.
Bringing light into darkness
That’s what I’ve gotten to see this summer. I had the privilege of watching the body of Christ do what it’s called to do: carry light into darkness, joy into emptiness, and love into the brokenness of this world. It is my hope that as all of the staff and students leave this spiritual and physical mountain called Summit, these memories would permeate the valleys of their everyday lives. It is my hope that they would never forget the reasons why a place like Summit can exist.
The reason we can come to a place like Summit and experience the most phenomenal summer of our lives is because Summit is a place where God is being lived and breathed every hour of every day; and, He is one that gives us that life. He has come to give life and to give it to the fullest. Christ is here, and He’s doing amazing things through each person who makes these summers possible. I can only be thankful for the opportunity to be a part.
“For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:36