It is no secret that there is power in telling stories. Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Twilight (yes, Twilight), all tell stories that captivate, fascinate, and hold our attention. People, especially our students, go crazy over these types of stories. I mean honestly, which team are you on, Jacob or Edward?!
Stories are powerful. I should clarify, good stories are powerful. And when it comes to our lives we want to be caught up in a good story. As children of God, we are caught up in a good story, God’s story. We are privileged to participate in The Story of God creating, pursuing, redeeming, and saving people. As participants in this good story, how are we living?
Who are you becoming?
With this in mind, I’ve been asking our students to reflect on a question recently: Who are you becoming? I’ve found that the more oft-asked question, “Who are you?”, is harder for students to process. Those who know students see that they are often pulled in many different directions, they wear many hats, and most can label themselves using at least 5 different identities. Student, Christian, Son/Daughter, Brother/Sister, Athlete, Musician, Friend, not to mention various online identities they may have. So answering the question, “Who are you?”, can be frustrating, even troublesome, for students. The question of becoming asks them to consider the events of their lives, past, present, and future, the influential people in their lives, both positive and negative, and to consider their dreams, values, gifts, talents, and abilities, for all of these have an impact on who they are becoming – the story they are writing.
If it’s true that the friends kids have now and the way they spend their time have a profound affect on their future and the story they are creating, isn’t it worth asking students to reflect on these things? Isn’t it worth asking them whether they can see where their story might be headed? So I’ve been asking them, “Who are you becoming?”
What story am I telling?
In the process of thinking about life as story, I had a thought: what if I looked back at my Facebook status updates over the last year? What story would they tell? My wisdom? That I’m quick-witted? Politically savvy? Compassionate? Passionate about faith? Crazy about my children? Which of these might stand out? Would this tell the true story of Chad? Would my true values and beliefs stand out, or would a fake story, or worse yet, a bad story, emerge? But isn’t this really what we and our students are doing when we use social media such as Facebook? Isn’t it all an attempt to be part of a story and tell a story that we hope others will find interesting, worthy, captivating? Aren’t we really trying to convince people that we are living a good story?
What about you? Who are you becoming? As a Youth Pastor, volunteer, spouse, friend, follower of Christ – who are youbecoming? When you look at the way you spend your time, the way you think, speak, and act, are you living into a goodstory? And finally, as those working with youth – as those entrusted with the daunting, yet privileged task of leading students on the journey, the story, of a relationship with Christ – how can we help our students live into a better story?
And because faith is communicated, learned, and flushed out in community, maybe the real question we need to be asking is: Who are we becoming?
Chad McDaniel works at Bethany Covenant Church in Mount Vernon, WA. "It is my desire to help students enter into, and engage, in the life of the church now. My favorite thing about ministry is walking with students through doubts, fears, joys, and all of life's ups and downs. It is a privilege to enter their world and speak into their lives. In addition to my ministry at Bethany, I enjoy coaching football and baseball at Mount Vernon High School.
My wife, Jodi, and I have been married since 2004 and have two little ones, Lina and Kaj. We consider it a joy to live in Mount Vernon and feel privileged to serve in such a dynamic, healthy and supportive church. We care deeply about serving our community, the Skagit Valley, and strive to make others a priority in our lives."