It is hard to believe that I have been running this blog for a year! As I have reflected back on this last year, I have seen how God has used this little site as a tool to continue to transform and refine me. It has just been a hare over 365 days ago that I decided to take a stab at this blogging thing and from that day forward I have found the learning curve of my life steepen at an exponential rate. It is so nice to be reminded that I do not have everything all figured out. It is not quite so nice to realize I have almost nothing figured out. But I have thoroughly enjoyed this new hobby of mine and am thankful for the ways God has used it. With a year under my belt, I wanted to share with you some of the things I have learned by cranking out 3 little posts a week for 52 weeks.
I am still in the market for new friends: I know that blogging is a new media, and friendships may be defined rather loosely in this world, but I have found that they are friendships all the same. I have had the pleasure to interact with so many people this last year and from such a wide verity of locations and backgrounds. Some of these people have actually become friends. I have had the pleasure of meeting several of them in person, and others I am anxiously waiting for the time God allows us to meet face to face. In person or virtually, I have had the pleasure to be sharpened and stretched in my faith, in my profession, and in my person and for that I am grateful. If you are looking for some good reading I highly recommend some of my new peeps.
Jeremy Zach at reyouthpastor.com Benjamin Read at intentionalstudentministry.com Chad Swanzy at youthleaderstash.com Kolby Milton at youthministrymedia.ca Andy Blanks at youthministry360.com Robbie McKenzie at robbiemackenzie.com Rusty Pettus at pettus.wordpress.com
I am a small fish in a big ocean: Have you ever been to a large youth ministry conference and been blown away by the 3000 other youth workers wondering around the convention center? As great as you are in your context and how ever much your students and parents are impressed with you, you are still only one of many youth workers out there loving a group of students into the kingdom of God. I have been honored to have had a couple of opportunities to serve outside my local context, and when I am not careful, I can begin to be pretty impressed with myself. But even my local network, my denominational connections, or training at a certain event are still pretty shallow ponds compared to the entire world wide web. Blogging has been a truly humbling experience, to be one tiny little site among billions in general, millions of blogs, and thousands of youth ministry blogs is pretty overwhelming. It is nice to be reminded of my true place and to do the thing that God has called me to because he has called me to it.
I have become far less critical: I have not given up thinking critically, but I have died to my critical spirit. It has been a favorite pastime to rip apart people who are out there writing and speaking. Don't they know that I should be the one out there impressing people with my mad skills. Ha! Consuming information and judging others may be easy and build some street cred with your small circle of friends. But to move into creating content and contributing to the conversation turns out to be much more difficult. To write something and have it out there for the world to see, criticize, push back on, is much more challenging then I thought. And after a year of this, I have realized that I have far more respect for anyone who is out there taking the risk, trying it out, contributing in any fashion then a clever tear down after a seminar.
Everyone has a voice; finding it is harder than it seams: You would think that spending my entire career in student ministry I would have a clear understanding of my voice. But the truth is when our only feedback loops are the closed system of our local church we slow down in our development. It gets incredibly old to simply say things and have the listeners and readers choke down the words because I am a pastor. When we expand our circles and deepen our ponds, we allow others to push back on us, to not let us get away with shoddy thinking or theology. And in this process we come out refined. We have a voice that is valuable to the conversation, that encourages and equips others for ministry. There isn't one master voice that accomplishes this, it is a community of voices that contribute to this process. While I am still enjoying my baby talk season, I have appreciated those who have encouraged me where I am and have pushed me to go farther.
The post that started it all: Looking back, there is absolutely nothing extraordinary about my original post, or about any post since. But I still stand behind my original sentiment. I my post, Is it even ok to be average, I said, "Most likely you are an average, common, and typical youth worker. But because we are connected to Christ and he loves to use our common and often feeble efforts, let us relax. Today we can enjoy the God who loves us and who calls us and uses us, warts and all. We can strive to be excellent tomorrow."
This has been a great year. Thank you for the part you have played in molding me and shaping me. I do not long to be Doug Fields or Andy Root. (ok, a little bit I do,) In my heart of hearts I long to be the fullest version of me that God has dreamt up before the dawn of time. And God is using this little blog, and your input and friendship to accomplish that goal. For that I am truly thankful and blessed!