In college during practice I would throw what's called a 'bull pen' every single day. It's simply where you throw about 25-50 pitches with no batter in order to practice certain placements, orders of pitches, and so on. Well, during these bull pens when you're working on a certain pitch like a curveball (the ball literally curves in the air) your hope is to develop better accuracy, more movement in the pitch, and better consistent of the latter two mentioned. So when. you throw a curveball just right you would hear the coach say, 'Yes! Yes! That's what you want! Do it again!' So you throw it again, it works perfectly, and the coach repeats what he said. It was very encouraging and reinforcing after you've worked so long and so hard just to get right it right.
This is what Paul constantly does throughout the admonition section of his letter to the Thessalonians. He says things like, we urge you to this thing you are currently doing, and 'to do it more and more.' He later says regarding their love for one another that they are doing so well, but that he urges them 'to do so more and more.' (1 Thessalonians chapter 4)
Right now, the average tenure of everyone on our staff that is not the Cruzes or Winters is approximately 1.5 years. This is an insanely small amount of time when it comes to the things we are all fighting to develop in ourselves, in the staff as a whole, and our whole Chi Alpha. But despite this shortage of experience and time together in this capacity I think we are so far ahead of where we should be in light of our minimal experience. Everything we are fighting for is difficult to attain. Truly loving one another requires constant forgiveness which implies constant (hopeful accidental) hurt. Being hurt by someone is a terrible feeling, but approaching them and them longing to make it right is a joyful feeling - to know that someone values you so much they hate the idea of hurting you even by accident.
Learning to be unselfish with our time, our money, our affections, our trust, and our days off is extremely difficult, but I have watched so many of. you grow in each of these areas and the fruit is being seen in the lives of the people it changes around you. People can literally feel when we want to withhold things for ourselves. When we want what we want, people notice. When we think of money most in regards to ourselves and our wants, people notice. When we withhold our love, our affection, our attention, and our trust, people notice. Selfishness of any kind does not easily go unnoticed.
On the other hand, unselfishness can often go unnoticed. A change in attitude may often go unnoticed. Thinking unselfishly can often go unnoticed. Giving our precious time away with a good attitude out of love for others may often go unnoticed. Unselfish love is how God meant us to live. When we live this way we are 'working'. People usually don't notice things that are working - a light bulb that shines brightly, a car that starts without a problem, an air-conditioner or heater that comes on when it should, etc. So it should be no surprise that people don't always notice when you are living as God intended. Your changes may go unnoticed by many, but not by God. He sees each one, each attempt, each step toward transformation and holiness. He sees them and is proud and THAT should be enough. But please know, I see them also. Few things give me joy like seeing each of us live like God intended and in a way that He is proud of.
It's not easy getting there and you are doing such a great job, but like Paul said, 'I urge you to do so more and more'. Give more of your money away. Think more and more of others. sacrifice more and more of yourself for others. Give extravagant time to God more and more. Die to your preferences more and more. Trust, love, and laugh with each other more and more. 1.5 years of average experience as a team on our staff is not reflected in how you all are with each other. From what I see, we are well beyond what those numbers would reflect. But I urge you and myself to do so more and more. Love you guys.