the other night i was up late and i didn’t really feel like watching old kung fu movies, so i started reading through old blog posts. as i was reading i noticed that there was a lot of information about me out there, and just from reading my blog you could probably get a pretty good idea of who i am. with one exception, there really isn’t a whole lot of my spiritual side which is kind of odd seeing as how i am a youth minister.
i was thinking about this and i came to a few conclusions: one, my blog is more about how i feel than ‘shop talk’. i hope anyone that reads this understands that on any given day i’m discussing, teaching and/or reading a lot about the bible and christian life. one of the pitfalls of ministry is sometimes it’s easy to want to leave work at the office, which is a task a minister can never truly achieve. that’s why i appreciate my friends that are not youth ministers, and allow me to be ‘just d.j.’ around them without expecting me to wear my minister hat. this may sound a little confusing, but at most jobs you can leave work at the office, not so much here. i’m not complaining about this, because the people that are happiest at their jobs are the ones doing something they would do without being payed, and i def would be, and did, ministry without being officially titled.
anyways, my second conclusion when it comes to the lack of spiritual undertones in my blog was that this was something that was easily remedied.
i taught a class on david a few weeks ago called ‘giant challenges’, where we looked at the story of david and goliath as a model of how to face challenges in our lives. like any good minister i’ve got this broken into different bullet points.
1. character counts
when samuel was looking for the man that God wanted to be the next king of israel he was told not to look at physical appearance, because God looks at the heart. when it comes to us and the battles that we face, who we are on the inside is going to have a huge influence on how we are going to battle. if we are timid, we run from challenges. if we are angry, we are more likely to battle without thinking. david was pure in heart, and he was more than willing to face the giant that had tormented his people, and mocked hid God.
2. step up
david did what no one else was willing to do. a whole army of trained soldiers cowered and waited for someone else to take initiative when goliath came and challenged the army for weeks on end. when it comes to our battles, it is very easy to look around and wait for someone else to take care of the giant. it’s not going to happen. our biggest battles, the things that are going to affect our lives the most are things that no one else can take care of but you. this doesn’t mean that we don’t ask for help or guidance, but when it comes to a head, we have to decide to fight ourselves. since i’m on a fitness kick lately, i’ll use this analogy. no one can lose weight for you. if you want to shed some pounds, you are going to have to run the miles, climb the stairs, lift the weights etc. hopefully you have others encouraging you along, but no one can fight the battle of the bulge for you. as unlikely as a hero as he might have appeared to be, david gets huge points for stepping up to the challenge.
3. breakdown the challenge
here’s where i learned the most from david when i was studying last week. when david tells king saul that he wants to fight goliath, he explains that as a shepherd he had protected his flock from bears, and rescued sheep from the mouths of lions. not just a bear, or a lion, but the language suggests that david might very well have a pretty big collection of bear and lion teeth back in his tent. so this picture i’ve always had of david as a weak little kid is pretty much shattered when i re-read this and see him as a confident bear-killer. the lesson here is to break down the challenge to something more manageable. david sees goliath as just another bear, something he knows he can defeat. when facing what seems like a monumental challenge it helps to reflect and draw on past battles to put the battle into perspective. going back to the weight loss scenario, if you just say you want to lose weight, you have a tough road ahead. but, if you break down the challenge into eating better, cardio, accountability, schedule etc, all of the sudden this monumental task becomes a much less intimidating giant.
4. fight smarter, not harder
david ditches the heavy armor that he is provided with and goes for a few stones and a sling. why? because that’s what he knows how to use. i can imagine in between fighting bears and lions there is quite a bit of down time as a shepherd, and david had plenty of training with a sling. so he uses what he knows. so if your battle is trying to quit smoking, would it be easier or harder to quit if you stop hanging out with people who smoke? if you don’t want to get drunk, don’t drink. if you’re tired of drama in your life, then don’t put yourself in situations that bring drama. call this the stop and think formula. so many bad decisions come from not thinking about how to fight beforehand.
5. fight for what’s right
the reason david is successful is because he is fighting for a worthy cause. goliath had insulted God, and david was there to put an end to that. when we are trying to fight a giant, it’s important that we have pure motives for our purpose. this goes back to my first point about who we are on the inside.
i started praying for every kid in my youth group by name every week. there are a few reasons why i started this. 1: my kids know that someone cares enough to pray over them. 2: if i don’t know what to pray for, then it gives me a reason to call up that kid and see what’s going on in their life. 3: i’m always looking for something to push my prayer life, and this def keeps me on my toes.
my favorite passage of scripture is romans 12. let me do a little walk through on why i love it. it starts off asking us to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, which i take to mean several different things. first off, we are meant to live. there have been times in my life where that desire was not abundant and this scripture has really spoken to me. secondly, if we are not here serving others then we are parasites. our purpose is to effect the world around us, not to be self centered. if you truly want to make an impact, then do something for someone else. and lastly, we are called to be living sacrifices only after we are reminded of God’s sacrifice for us. love because we have been shown love. what a great concept.
the next paragraph talks about the purpose that we all play in the grand scheme of things. but it starts off with a gut check of exactly how you should view yourself. we are not called to brag about accomplishments, or pride ourselves on meaningless trophies. we are called to judge ourselves by where our faith is at. i love telling the kiddos about this because it is so contrary to what the world believes, and it is so liberating. i could spin my wheels for years achieving all kinds of crazy stuff, but it will never make me a better person. if i want to be a complete person i need to look at myself the way God looks at me. how does God look at me? he looks at the gifts that i have been given, and how i have used these gifts. have i fulfilled my potential, or have i been too selfish to care.
then there’s a whole section devoted on what it means to love. putting others before yourself, devoting yourself to one another, serving, patience, sharing, caring, peacefulness… man what a way to live. i wish i could exemplify this verse more often.
i’ve adopted a new theme for the youth ministry here: ‘you will know that you are loved’. it comes from john 13 where Jesus tells his disciples, ” by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” whata great message for the postmodern world. instead of trying to explain God’s love, try demonstrating it. this is the approach my dad took. i don’t recall him giving many bible studies to his friends, but i do have plenty of recollection of him actually demonstrating what the bible was all about, wether it was an encouraging word, a hug, or simply caring about someone else. so here’s how that theme directly applies to our ministry here. first, there is plenty of hatred and apathy out in the world. when you’re here, your safe. i want this place to feel different from the rest of the world. second, if the ministry is going to accomplish our main goal of bringing the message of Christ to the lost, then we are going to remind the kids of God’s love, and equip them to love the same way. and lastly, every person has worth. everyone. growing up is hard enough, and it’s even harder when you feel alone. we were not meant to live by ourselves, and we are not meant to survive on self reliance. we need others around us that bring us up. we need people to serve us, and we need others to serve.
well, i know this has been a long post, but stuff like this really helps me get centered before our summer season starts. i’m petitioning for your prayers for our ministry this summer that we grow how we need to, and that we are able to fulfill our role in God’s plan for us. thanks.
one love, one heart.