So for the past two days I’ve decided to read through some of my blog posts from when I first started writing this thing. I caught myself thinking two things 1) I was completely ridiculous & 2) I thought I was the STUFF in youth ministry. Do you know what I’ve learned in the 7 years that I have lived since I started this blog? (I was 28, BTW…) I have learned that NOBODY cares about what you write if it isn’t helpful or useful in some way & that even though I know WAY MORE about youth ministry now than I did back then, I am coming to realize how very little I actually know. I think that perspective begins to come with age… but I remember busting out of college thinking I knew better than every other youth pastor out there how to do this thing because I had read some books, sat in some classes, and had a few small successes under my belt. Boy was I wrong!!! Man… what I wouldn’t give to go back to 23-year-old Sam and say, “You think you get it… you think you know… you haven’t even scratched the surface! Wait until your kids get to be around that age…and watch all your graphs and strategies and “this is how it theoretically should work” statements just fly out the window.” I am learning 2 major lessons through all of this that I think are important for everyone in my type of position to learn:
1) Be HUMBLE & TEACHABLE
Nobody likes a know it all… Especially a 20-something one who has no kids (or babies) who tries to pose to parents of teenagers like they know how to parent their kids better. It’s annoying… and I was that… and I apologize! My kids have taught me more about youth ministry than my classes ever could. I now view parents of my students as partners… not projects. I look for ways that they can teach me about youth ministry… and not what I can teach them about parenting.
2) When I do speak… BE FULL OF GRACE & TRUTH
The words that I speak into others (students, parents, youth ministry peers) need to be edifying, building, and full of grace. There is no place for ARROGANCE, HARSH LANGUAGE, or KNOW IT ALL ATTITUDES. I am constantly reminding myself lately that “to win the argument but to lose the person is to LOSE.” Paul said it this way, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.” Colossians 4:6
HUMILITY & GRACE go a long way!
Starting April 12 in Ignite (high school ministry at Hopevale Church) we are looking into the future of where God is leading us in the area of serving. FORWARD is a strategic serving endeavor where we will INTENTIONALLY identify some SMALL STEPS FORWARD and some BIG STEPS FORWARD that our students can take to begin a life of CONTRIBUTING instead of just CONSUMING… of SERVING instead of just SITTING. The idea of FORWARD was birthed out of a study that I was doing in the book of Philippians. In chapter 3, Paul starts naming off some of his past achievements… things that would bring his resume to the top of the pile in any company or church… but then he says this:
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done.” Paul’s pursuit of Jesus Christ… and where Jesus was leading him was of MORE VALUE to him than what he had done in the past and where he had been. Later on he says these words, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking FORWARD to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Paul is convinced that the best days of following Jesus are still ahead of him… are still FORWARD. The goal that we, as followers of Jesus, strive towards is becoming like the one we follow. And there is this quote that I can’t shake: We are never more like Christ than when we are serving. Jesus said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many.” I am convinced that the best days for our high school ministry are ahead of us. We’ve done some pretty great things in the name of Jesus… but I believe that Jesus is calling us to GREATER things in the future. He is calling us FORWARD.
Okay… It’s been a while since I wrote anything on any format. Ministry gets pretty busy over the winter months and my energy for writing gets put into other endeavors. But now it is time to do a re-launch of sorts. I’m not promising what everyone else who writes these posts promises (more and frequent content) because I can’t make that promise. What I can say is that I am beginning to write again and want to share some things that I am learning and growing in.
There are some big changes coming for me in my ministry world this summer… and I am very excited about them. Starting in July I will be overseeing not only Student Ministries at Hopevale Church, but I will also be overseeing our Children’s Ministries and the staff that lead those areas. I won’t be a traditional “Family Pastor” because my main focus will still be working in Student Ministry with our High School students… But I will be coaching our children’s ministry team with vision and strategic leadership to set them up to win in their ministries. I believe my unofficial/official title will be Next Generation Ministries Pastor. So what does that mean for the content on this blog? Probably nothing… because the focus of this blog has always been life, family, youth ministry, & leadership. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this next stage in my ministry life… but I’m going to have to until July 1 (that’s when this officially starts). 🙂 So stay tuned… more content is coming soon.