I’ve invited people to SLS for twelve years, and I have heard just about every excuse in the book for not going. But more often than not, the reasons boil down to a few common concerns — concerns that are legitimate, mostly, but not genuine conflicts.
Don’t let these excuses stop you or your friends from missing out on a life-changing experience:
1. “I’m not a leader” or “I’m not ready to be a leader.”
So you heard that SLS is about sharing your faith, and you don’t think you’re up for the task? Don’t think you’re good enough, smart enough, or holy enough? You are in good company. You know who else didn’t think they were ready to lead?
Moses: Said he wasn’t a good speaker.
Peter: Said he was a sinner.
Jeremiah: Said he was too young.
Gideon: Said he was too insignificant.
The truth is this conference isn’t about gathering all the best people together. There’s no bar for entry. If you are open to Jesus’s mission, then SLS is for you. The question isn’t, “Am I ready?” I don’t think anyone is ever fully prepared for God’s work. The question is, “Am I willing?” And if you are willing, come.
2. “I don’t have the money.”
This is really common, but also really easy to solve.
First, ask friends and relatives for help. While that may sound daunting, most of the time you can raise enough money by simply asking. And, it’s not that scary. FOCUS has fundraising materials available to get you started (here). There is money out there. Don’t let $100 or your fear of asking be the reason you don’t go. You can even make it a birthday or Christmas gift.
Besides, SLS is a great use of your money.
3. “I don’t know anyone.”
I have an old friend who went to a similar conference as a freshman, and it’s unlikely your experience will be more challenging than his. First, he didn’t know anyone (literally). He traveled with a group from another campus. Even worse, he was picked up by the campus bus in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep. He got on the bus, plopped down, looked around at 50 sleeping strangers, and prepared for the worst. But, even with the rocky start, the conference was life-changing for him. He met a lot of people, and he doesn’t regret going.
I suspect that you will make great friends at SLS, even if you have to endure a little awkwardness.
4. “I want to spend time with family or friends.”
Over the break, many people want to spend time with family and friends. That is a good thing. However, SLS isn’t even a whole week. You don’t have to choose between SLS and the people you love. I recommend time for both. Besides, sometimes being at home for a whole month can feel long. A trip to SLS might even provide a nice break within your break.
Also, there’s no reason your friends and family can’t come too.
5. “I won’t enjoy it./It’s not my thing./I just don’t want to go.”
I think this is a temptation. The unsettling feeling that everything is going to be terrible doesn’t come from God. Ask yourself this question: “Will this help me become the person I am supposed to be?” If the answer is “yes” (and it likely is), I’d recommend you go, even if it’s not “your thing.”
6. “I’ve already gone to SLS. I don’t want to go again.”
Ask yourself: “Who needs to go to SLS, but won’t go unless I go with them?” Think of how much a friend or relative would benefit from SLS. They may not register without you. Go with them.
Also, having been to SLS multiple times myself, I know that each experience is rewarding. If you go with an open heart, you will grow, even if it isn’t the same experience it was the first time.
7. “I need a break.”
This desire still creeps up on me: “I’m tired,” “I’ll miss football,” “I need sleep,” etc. But, honestly, this is laziness. SLS is an opportunity for real recreation (re-creation). By going to SLS, you will be reminded of your deepest identity and purpose. This will give you more energy and passion for life, not less. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to witness something amazing just because you feel like lounging on a couch, watching TV and having a second helping of leftover Christmas cookies.
8. “I hate the travel.”
Every good thing requires sacrifice. If you have a long trip to SLS, try and endure it patiently, but don’t let that be your excuse not to go at all. The trip is often a great opportunity to get to know people. It doesn’t have to be a waste of time. Make the most of it.
9. “I’m too busy.”
If you are extremely busy, then I think you need SLS. SLS may just help you understand what is most important and help you get out of meaningless busyness. Who you become is more important than what you do. SLS will be worth your time.
10. “I’ll go next time.”
There is a story you may have heard in a homily about a group of demons discussing how to lead people into hell. The first says, “Let’s tell them there is no God.” The second, “No, let’s say there’s no such thing as evil.” But the eldest, the most experienced, says, “No — let’s just tell them there’s no hurry.”
Don’t put off a great decision. Register today.