Enthusiasm, by Mary E. Munger
Transcribed by Nina West, an address to the Michigan State Convention made by Mary E. Munger and published in the YPCU's journal, Onward, in 1908.
From Onward: The Journal of the Universalist Young People, Vol. XV, January 7, 1908 by Mary E. Munger:
Enthusiasm is one of the keys to success. Too much cannot be said of the need of enthusiasm and its relation to our Young People�s Union. In order to make our Union a success we should be enthusiastic enough to attend its meetings. I do not mean to go and sit all through the meeting as though deaf and dumb, neither do I mean that one should do all the talking. Try and take an interest in what others are doing and what they suggest. A great many are always on the contrary side of everything. This is often the case in a small Union. The older members are rather inclined to utterly ignore what the younger ones have to say. When such is the case it soon kills all enthusiasm the younger members may have; not only that, but makes them afraid to express their thoughts on any subject for fear of ridicule; and the result is that they one by one drop out, first from the Union and then from the Sunday school. I often hear people wonder why it is that there are not more young Christians and church members. It is because the older church workers are not enough interested in the young people. They think that the young people are not competent to go ahead with church work. Perhaps they are not; but if they would give them something to do, set them to work and get them interested, it would not be long before they could not wish for a more enthusiastic set of workers. Another thing, the churches are often too strict with the young; they would make them old before their time.
I remember reading one time of a dear old lady in a struggling country church, of which she was a devoted member, heart and soul. She boasted at the beginning of as fine a group of young people as could be found in the whole country side. She dispersed a fine class of boys to begin with, because they came early and sat on the church steps. She said it was not dignified, and she worried them about it until they did not come any more. She also swept away a group of about twenty boys and girls because they liked to sit on the stairs at the church socials and play more or less silly games.
I suppose she thought she was doing her duty toward the church by protecting its dignity from the onslaught of undignified young people. But instead she was only driving away its future workers and member.
How about the amount of enthusiasm manifest in our Young People's Christian Union? I am sure we all have a certain amount of enthusiasm, but is it lasting? Do we have the same amount or even more enthusiasm at the close of the year than we had at the beginnin? I am afraid not. We are to easily discouraged. Even if we do not do quite as much as other Unions are doing we must remember that there are not as many of us, and we have not the means for doing that amount of work.
I notice there is a great deal more enthusiasm shown by the girls than by the boys. I do not mean that the girls are any more enthusiastic workers: far from it, for some of our best members are among the boys. But they are harder to get interested, and consdequently there are fewer boys in our Union.
I believe that if we would all of us stop and think what our name means, especially the last two words, "Christian Union," and try to live up to that meaning, if we all had more of the Christian spirit and unity in our work, we would accomplish more; and woe would always be finding something new to hold our interest; our enthusiasm would be of the lasting and durable kind, and our Union a greater success.