I love what I do! I have had several jobs through the years that paved the way into the person I am today: flipping burgers, sandwich artist, catering, camp counselor, car reservation specialist, playing piano for tips, and I even worked my way through seminary as a proofreader at a local publishing house.
Fast forward to today. I love being a pastor! There is nothing else I could ever imagine doing with my life. God has truly been gracious to me by leading me to serve alongside wonderful, faith-filled people.
For many years, early on in ministry, I had the privilege of leading youth ministry to middle school and high school youth. I loved the countless all through the night lock-ins, 30 hour famines, mission trips, weekend retreats, Six Flags trips, weekly youth group and discipleship opportunities, and of course, summer camp. To this day, certain songs I hear immediately bring me back to moments of camp or youth night experiences where young lives were changed. It also brings back memories of the many theme nights I have been a part of: egg night, human sundae night, s’mores night, water night, and mess fest. I am still trying to block spam night from memory, but sadly, that one is etched into my brain. Bobbing for spam anyone? What was I thinking?! I cannot tell you how many pizzas I have either ordered, eaten, or scraped from the floor. Too many to count, for sure.
As I reflect, I cannot thank God enough for the joy and privilege of allowing me to be a part of this journey with such amazing youth and their families at this life shaping time for both myself and the youth I was with. God is good!
These were formative years for me as a pastor, father, and man of God. Looking back, I have been blessed with a lifetime of experience. The following video brought back a flood of memories for me. It shows the incredible power of social media today, that if harnessed correctly, can be a useful tool for ministry. It also reminds me of what ministry, regardless of its focus, is all about:
The impact we can have on a person’s life is unknowable. Take a moment right now to send a quick email, PM, post on a friend’s Facebook, or jot down a handwritten note and send it to them a word of encouragement. Nothing fancy. Simply, let them know you were thinking about them. The Holy Spirit is often referred to in scripture as the Encourager. Let’s take a moment to live in that Spirit by starting a wave of encouragement, one person impacting the next until a we have a movement on our hands. People today hunger for affirmation (our kids and grandchildren deeply yearn for it), but unfortunately, often seek solace in unhealthy substitutes. I have always loved the following piece of scripture:
For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:4-6)
The only sure and true place encouragement is found is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. As Paul reminds us in the passage we just read, the Bible was written to teach us and point us toward a living and breathing relationship with God in Jesus Christ. It is this relationship which enlivens, forgives, and enables us to live and find our place in the world, and world to come.
I love what I do … do you? Be encouraged friend, God has a plan for you! He formed you and shaped you with His own loving hand! From the start of creation, as He placed the stars in the sky, He knew you and had a plan for you to fulfill. He breathed life into you and said that your are wonderfully good. So smile, cowboy up, Jesus loves you!
Wondering what’s next,
Remembering your hair on the day BCL was confirmed–with pictures to prove it! You are a wonderful pastor, PN! Thank you for the countless ways you have impacted all the youth and families to whom you have ministered!