As I walked through my neighborhood, I saw a former student who lives nearby, married with kids. Unfortunately, I do not see him very often, but when I do it's easy and fun.
I knew him when I worked with local Eastside youth who were labeled as "at-risk" students: mostly gang members and teen moms. This guy was the only one of the bunch who played school sports and avoided trouble, for the most part. When I saw him yesterday he was coming back from a game being played at the nearby high school against his alma mater. I teased him that old habits die hard, and he said, Gotta support my team, Kelly! It was so dear to see because he had the same breathless expression of excitement on his face that he had as a teenager. This guy didn't just play baseball; he lived and breathed it and absolutely loved it.
I laughed, grabbed his shoulder and said, I remember going to YOUR games!
Immediately we looked at each other with a what I felt like was a fond sense of nostalgia, because in the next moment we both caught ourselves and realized that was nearly 20 years ago. We chatted briefly about odds and ends, then parted.
But then he called back to me after a few steps: I'll never forget that you went to my games!
How great is that? I just spent 4 days this past week working with a church on the endless nuts and bolts of running a youth ministry. We hammered out calendars and job descriptions and plans and budgets... Complicated stuff at times. But honestly, when you boil it all down, it's actually quite simple: It's sorta like baseball. Just keep showing up. That's what they will remember.