You Never Know Who's Watching...

Kara Powell | Mar 1, 2010

This past weekend I had a fantastic time at the Group Simply Youth Ministry Conference in Chicago. I learned an eye-opening lesson at a Chicago pizza place (yum yum) on my way to the hotel.

I was eating by myself and couldn’t help but overhear the conversation of the couple sitting at the table next to me. Or rather, lack of conversation. The husband was on his cell phone the entire time they were waiting for their food, and while he had some cute interactions with his young child at the table once the food actually arrived, on the family’s way out of the restaurant, he spoke to his wife in a sharp tone of voice—a more sharp tone of voice than I think my husband has ever used with me.

Two hours later, I was walking through the conference exhibit hall and guess who was one of the exhibitors. Yup, pizza place guy.

I don’t always talk to my children or husband in the tone of voice I wish, so I’m not trying to pass judgment. But I guess I’m extra aware these days that you never know who’s watching. I want to do my best to be the mom, wife, and leader I really want to be both in public and private. And I’m so glad God’s grace covers those times when I fall short (which happens on a regular basis).

It reminds me of the disappointment a high school guy shared with me when he went surfing with his youth pastor and his youth pastor ignored someone who was homeless and begging for money because he was in a hurry to get to the waves. This happened a week after this youth pastor had challenged his students to show kindness to folks who are homeless. The kid wasn’t mad—just disappointed.

It’s hard to be a leader. May God give us grace to be the followers of Jesus He wants us to be. And may we experience God’s grace when we aren’t.

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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