I’m not sure how I got to thinking about this…especially this week as busy as I’ve been. I’m speaking in a few weeks at a group of youth pastors in Kansas – maybe that’s why but something hit me yesterday as I was 40 feet in the air on an extension ladder hanging speaker wire. (Closer to God? Scared to death? Not sure…)
My first thought was this – what do you say to a room of youth pastors that they haven’t already heard? Maybe that’s not the point but I think it’s a valid question. I’ve sat through my share of boring seminars and talks – I don’t want to be that guy up front repeating what every other student pastor says when he gets asked to speak to a bunch of student pastors.
Then I started thinking – what do you need to hear? What’s been one of the most significant pieces of advice or insight that has shaped how you do ministry?
And I thought of Cindy Rhudy. Then of Mark Edwards. Then of Steve Boehm. And this made me think of other volunteers who became friends who became family that I’ve done youth ministry alongside. But those three came to mind because they were links in defining the single most important insight that has shaped me.
From Cindy Rhudy: Trust your volunteers. Learn from them. That’s a pretty good insight in and of itself, but it wasn’t the lynchpin. It did open the door for the next two people.
From Steve Beohm: If you can’t do what you want, do what you can. Steve and Beth wanted to be missionaries in China. That door got slammed in their face. Instead of being bitter about it – they brought the Far East to them – adopting foreign exchange students. They’ve had 4, putting a couple through college right now. All of them know Jesus.
From Mark Edwards: Knowing the Word is good. Doing it is better. Mark’s modesty will prevent him from saying this but he’s the genius that started the Under the Bridge project. He pushed, pulled, and poked me deeper into Christ just by walking in the room. His faith challenged me. It made me uncomfortable at times but I couldn’t ever resist spending time with him.
I had the noble aspiration to make sure students knew the Word of God. Not bad. But through the advice and insight of these three (and others) I learned…no…I EXPERIENCED something better than that.
The real, messy, unpredictable Jesus. The real Jesus that gets in our mess with us… to redeem it and change us.
“They can’t know the real Jesus without knowing the Word.” That’s true.
But it’s equally true that it’s possible to know the Word and NOT know the real Jesus.
And as leaders of student ministries in this crazy phase of student culture – we’d better know the difference. More to the point, we’d better know how to connect the dots so that the knowledge doesn’t become the stumbling block of the relationship.
Well, what does that look like?
Looks like I need to spend some more time on some ladders…