Summer is always a crazy time in the life of a youth minister. Jokingly, I like to say that I divide my year in half, summer and the rest of the year. This summer has once again raised the bar for overall business in my life. Our event calendar wasn’t as packed as it will be in the future, but there was still plenty of stuff to keep me occupied. I kept track of my non-sleeping time at home over the course of this summer, and it is just under 25 hours. That’s unreal. I love it. And make no mistake, this is not me simply staying in motion all of the time. I really feel like God was working through this summer at NC3.
I’m mentioning busyness for a few reasons. First of all, the pace of summer affects so much of my life. It’s a time where priorities have to come in line because there simply is not enough time to do everything I want (or sometimes need) to do. Having a packed schedule forces me to hone my decision making and evaluation processes. Many times over the course of the summer I have to make quick decisions that can have a deep resounding impact on a lot of people. For example, if my friends want to hang out on a Saturday night, I have to think through my schedule for the following week and see if there is rest time in there before our next big event. For example, if I’m out all Saturday night, Sunday is packed with church events, and Monday is going to be filled with running errands (or my usual day off catching up business) then I know I won’t be able to be rested up for Tuesday (my toughest day) that starts with a staff meeting and ends a few hours after our devotional.
Secondly, I mention my busyness with a sense of accomplishment. I think we should take pride in the work given to us, and we should celebrate a job well done. There is a certain satisfaction in knowing you gave it your all, no matter what that ‘it’ might be. I remember before our first spring sing show my freshmen year of college, one of the older Kappa guys told us to give it all onstage for the show. If we could breathe afterwards we didn’t do it right. I look at summer like that. If I’m well rested and breathing easy at the end of summer I didn’t do it right. I know that busyness is not the goal of youth ministry, but it is a good indicator of a successful summer.
Lastly, for me busyness calls me to lean closer to God. Loud music, caffeine and excitement only carry me so far. For me, there is always a breaking point where I realize that if I am simply going to survive the summer I am going to need a strength beyond what I posses. One of the reasons I think this summer was so successful was that I entered into it on my knees in prayer, already worn out from the excitement of starting a new job and all that was going on my life. Summer is typically a time where I really get to experience the Holy Spirit at work. There is no other explanation for what goes on during the summer. I thank God that he gives an experiential learner like myself summers to show me how the Holy Spirit works.
Last Saturday was one of those days where I had to laugh at the end of the day. I looked over at Bellflower chica and said, “When you woke up today, did you think you’d end up working a merch booth all day at a hip hop concert in LA, and hanging out as part of a rappers’ entourage after the concert at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Hollywood?”
We had a great day with the Evangeline Family last Saturday. We packed up a bunch of shirts and hats, all the booth gear and headed up to San Fernando for a Christian hip hop concert. Fedel, who is sponsored by Evangeline, was one of the headliners so we went up to check out his show, and enjoyed a few other acts as well. After the show, we were talking with Fedel and discovered he’s from Tulsa, which I thought was pretty funny. (If you’re in the Tulsa area you definitely should check out one of his show’s.) We got to talking, and ended up heading to Roscoe’s after the show was over for some chicken and waffles. It may not sound like a great combo, but this place is a must for post-anything around LA. Anyways, we all had a good time, some great food, and we can now saw we’ve been part of a rappers’ posse.
Also, I was really inspired by one of Fedel’s songs, ‘Walk It Like I’m Changed’. The hook includes this line, “I’m going to be everything you said I could not be”. So many people in the world want to tell us what we can’t be or do. We live in a culture that says we should ‘do it ourselves’ which is a great recipe for failure. When we give ourselves over to Christ, and tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, the impossible is no longer impossible. Love it.
Speaking of meaningful quotes, here are a few that came from The Leadership Summit we went to this week. It was a great conference via sattelite put on by Willow Creek featuring some great leaders from around the world. And by great speakers, I mean the last two were Bono and Tony Blair. Here are a few quotes we snagged from the Summit:
Who a speaker is, speaks as loudly as what a speakers says
– David Gergen
Sometimes the comfortable thing to do is the wrong thing to do.
There is no country in the world that has developed through handouts. Why is Africa different?
Sometimes our best work is done when we have no idea what we are doing.
Don’t confuse motion with progress.
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, do it with others.
The longer you’re in the trenches the easier it is to mistake the edge of your rut for the horizon.
Stop asking God to bless what you’re doing, find out what God’s doing, because it’s already blessed.
Silence propells abuse
Aid is not really aid.
Obedience is more important than passion.
More Christians need to repent… not just of wrongdoing… but of their reason for rightdoing.
Unprecedented changes bring unprecedented opportunities. But you must have unprecedented strategies.
Change needs to seem more exciting than standing back.
If it hasn’t changed is it because we’ve explored other options and it still is the best option or because we’re stuck on tradition.
God doesn’t have a “plan B.”
More on the Leadership Summit here.
I have to admit I had my doubts about twitter a few months ago when I first thought about signing up. But I am increasingly becoming a fan of the latest ‘big thing’ in the communication era.
Instant global communication gives power to the people. We are becoming increasingly less dependent on a few news sources for our information. This is especially cool following politicians on twitter. This past election I skipped the tv version of the news and read the information sent out directly from the candidates.
There are some interesting people out there who lead really amazing lives. I love following people like John C Maxwell and Tony Hawk, because the glimpses they give into their lives gives me insight into what makes a person dynamic. Not everyone leads a crazy life like Hawk, or has a well of wisdom like Maxwell, but I appreciate the accessibility that they allow via twitter. As a youth minister, I think it’s important to allow as many people access to my life as possible. I know I don’t lead the most interesting life, but twitter has already opened up doors for me to connect with kids/parents that I might have missed out on otherwise. It also helps alleviate the ‘so what do you do al day?’ question youth ministers so often have to answer. I’ve been convicted lately to use this means of mass communication as a platform to bless as many people as I can by my words. Twitter is in no way a substitute for a deeper relationship with a person, but if you can send out more encouragement, why would you not?
And lastly, at 140 characters max, twitter updates are a concise way to communicate. They are not blog posts (which can tend to drag on… sorry) but short bursts of communication that give you just the right amount of space to say what you need to say.
And if you’re a church leader, check out the ebook, ‘The Reason Your Church Must Twitter here.
There are some boring people out there who twitter about the most mundane stuff. My least favorite people are those who only seem to update about what/when they are eating. These are people thatsomehow get removed from my newsfeed. My suggestion is to follow enough interesting people to make twitter worth your while.
The language of twitter can be tough to break through. You followpeople on twitter, which always sounds weird. Names always appear with the @symbol in front of them. # or hashmarks are used to tag phrases so that twitterers can search popular terms. RT means the post is a ReTweet originally posted by someone else. And finally there’s the terminology for users and their posts: twitterers, tweeters, twits, tweets, tweeted, and my personal favorite, twote.
And finally, there is the narcissism factor. Twitter is definitely a haven for the modern day narcissists to spread the news about themselves. Constantly. My advice would be to skip the hollywood scene on twitter.
Looking back on the end of summer, I can not think of a better way to end this blog than with a bunch of thank you’s.
First, to the parents at NC3. Thank you so much for your love and support. Things have gotten off to a great start, and I’m really stoked to develop more and more places for you guys to plug in and take over! Also, with the number of excellent young men and women here at NC3, it would be tough to skip over the fact that you have done a great job of raising your kids. By the way, this goes on my list of favorite pics for the summer:
To my youth group. You guys are going to change the world for the better. I’m very humbled to be your youth leader and I could not be more excited for the next few years.
To the staff at NC3, I consider myself blessed to be a part of a great team. Everyone brings so much to the table. It’s so easy to push yourself towards excellence when there are others that set that example for you. I think our time at the Summit together is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how much of a blessing our time together can be.
And to my friends, readers, and encouragers out there, thanks for all the love.
De La Soul – 3 Ft High and Rising
Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Midnight Marauders
Thrice – Beggars
Fedel – I Live
Axiom – Bill Hybel
Joshua – the Bible
one love, one heart.