Don’t Cut Corners



Brian Mateer, Youth Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Martinsville, VA

As I was growing up, I remember hearing this phrase numerous times from parents, coaches and other adults.  Now that I am a youth leader and a parent, I have found myself saying this, also.  “Don’t Cut Corners” means “Don’t take the easy way out.”  More recently this phrase took on a whole new meaning for me when I stumbled on a verse in Leviticus as I prepared for a spring break trip to Florida to glean grapefruits and cabbage.

“When you harvest your land’s produce, you must not harvest all the way to the edge (“corners” in some translations) of your field; and don’t gather every remaining bit of your harvest. Leave these items for the poor and the immigrant; I am the Lord your God.”  –Leviticus 22

To be able to harvest the inside of fields and to leave the corners would take some planning and forethought.  Therefore, it seems as though God is trying to tell us that before we receive the bounty of our harvest and hard work, we had better first think of the poor and the immigrants.  In my mind I picture our being reminded every time we enter the edge of our fields to remember “the least of these.” Then God ends the verse by saying, “I am the LORD your God.”  It’s like God puts His rubber stamp on the verse.  It is not something that would be nice for us to do; it is something that He commands us to do.

As youth leaders we need to remind our students and ourselves that God has commanded us to keep the poor and immigrants in our minds as we enjoy an abundance of gifts.  The 30 Hour Famine helps us to carry out this command in meaningful and significant ways.  It allows us to keep the poor and immigrants at the corners and edges of our minds that we may remember them often.  It creates an opportunity to keep the poor and immigrants at the corners and edges of our youth ministries.

Since returning home from that spring break trip, our 30 Hour Famine event has been at the top of our to do list as we prepare for it on May 4-5.  Each year we put a significant amount of time, effort and budget into hosting our event.  Why do I put such value and emphasis on the 30 Hour Famine each year?  It is because students can take away so much from participating in a 30 Hour Famine:  Leadership experience, hunger awareness, participation in the spiritual discipline of fasting, learning about other cultures, experiencing what the Bible tells us about how to treat others, building relationships and inviting our churches and communities on this adventure.  These are all great youth ministry practices that make lasting impacts on students and youth ministries.

I invite you to leave the corners of your youth ministries and the corners of your wealth to the poor and immigrants.  Along the way you may just experience a tremendous “harvest” within your students and your youth ministries.

Do the Famine!