A new rhythm for summer

35336603_6139606fbc_z This week marks the end of our formal student ministry calendar. From here on out we switch gears to our summer rhythm, full of pool parties, bbqs, and exciting trips. For me, a change in season marks an opportunity for reflection, evaluation, and course correction.

I have spent the last few weeks wrestling with what God has for me personally. This is a fun and needed change from being single-minded in my pursuite of student ministry. While I do think I have a good plan for those guys for the summer and upcoming year, I do need to make some important course corrections for near, and possibly the not so near future, in my personal life.

Maybe we should follow our dreams:

The story of Joseph in scripture is a powerful story for me. I believe that God has put a unique dream in each of our hearts, and as we grow and mature in the Lord, God clarifies that dream. Not all of us have dreams of our family bowing down to us, but we do all have glimpses of the full and whole person that we were created to be.

Some of that dream revolves around relationships and family, and some of that dream revolves around calling and vocation. For me, God is clarifying some of the dreams that he has put in my heart years and years ago. Instead of just thinking that they are silly dreams, I am going to actually develop a course of action that puruses this dream with all of who I am.

As I have grown in my relationship with Jesus, his voice is growing clearer and clearer. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to have spiritual direction for a couple years that God has used in a mighty way to clarify his voice. And I am humbled by the community of people around me who walk through the peaks and valleys of life and who help me discern the voice of God and to clarify the dreams that God has given me.

I am switching to summer hours

All of this to say, I am going to spend this summer changing course. I am going to be intentional with what consumes my free time so that I can take a hold of all that God might have in store for me and my family. To acomplish this, I need to put my blog further back on my to do list.

I have loved the challenge of trying to crank out 3 blogs a week that are thoughtful and relevent. I have definately hit more foul tips more than home runs, but it has been an incredible learning experience all the same. For this summer, I will be changing my pace of writing for this blog to once a week or so. From Memorial Day to Labor Day this blog will switch to summer hours. Plus, you as a reader shouldn't waste too much of the summer indoors reading blogs. This is the season for rest and restoration, soaking up the sun, and temping skin cancer with a deepning tan.

By Labor Day I will be jumping back in to the blogosphere, hopefully with a renewed passion and call to the art of student ministry and the opportunity to walk alongside other youth workers as we collectivly love on students and help them love God.

But until then, I pray that God clarifies my dreams, gives me the guts to live into them, and uses my little place in the body of Christ to the fullest extent. And my prayer for you is the same!

Have a great summer! Keep in touch! Don't ever change! Stay sweet! Class of '93 represent!

Who is your Simon Cowell?

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Over the last couple of years God has been developing some new dreams and passions in my life. Some of these dreams have turned out to be dead on arrival, like learning how to dub step. Some dreams are slowly maturing, like getting in touch with my emotional side. (I can’t wait to go and see Titanic in 3D by myself and just let the tears flow!)

But one passion that God has been developing in me is ready to be examined and refined. It is time to see if this new-found passion for writing and the dream of contributing to the larger Christian community is real and from God, or something God is using for this particular season in my life.

It started with a New Year’s Resolution

Back in 2010 I made a New Years resolution to become more professional. I used to find incredible joy in lowering people’s expectations of me, my ministry, and especially my intellect. Then I would find joy and security when I would surprise people by easily exceeding their low expectations. God graciously revealed that this is a cop-out and an easy way to hide. So as I wrestled with what it might look like to take communicating more seriously, I landed on writing as being the avenue to work out this resolution. But as I began to write, something strange began to bubble up inside of me: I actually enjoyed it. I enjoyed completing thoughts, wrestling with deeper issues than adolescent-level theology, and being part of a larger conversation.

Not only have I enjoyed it, but a couple of people besides my mom have really enjoyed it as well. I have been blessed to have a community of incredibly supportive people in my life who ooze love and affirmation on me. This has been a great encouragement and has spurred me on to write much more consistently, to start this blog, and to write a book. But the more I write, and the more my mom loves it, I have started to have this sinking feeling.

What if I have deluded myself into thinking I am better than I really am? What if I am really like those awful singers on American Idol? You know, the ones whose moms have told them their entire lives what amazing singers they are The ones who have had no other constructive criticism to speak of. The ones who hear Simon tell it like it is, and who then protest in disbelief. And at the end of the day these singers stick it to the camera with every ounce of conviction in their soul that Simon is the idiot, and their mom was right.

I have come to really admire the contestants who put it all on the line in American Idol. They have a dream, they have had some talent affirmed, and they put themselves out there for the world to see. Most of them get the awful truth that their passion is simply their passion and nothing more. But for the select few, their passion is also a talent that is good enough for the national stage.

I am ready for my Simon Cowell moment

You would think that as I develop a passion for writing, the passion would be motivation enough. I enjoy writing; therefore I will write. But that is not good enough. I want to know where I stand among my peers. Am I good enough for the occasional church newsletter? Good enough for my friends to post something on their blog? Good enough to make it into print? Good enough to be a part of the national dialogue? Who knows?

Due to the prodding of some close friends and my wife, I am going to jump into the deep end and see where I stack up in the writing world. This weekend I am heading to Mount Hermon’s Christian Writer’s Conference. I will be rubbing shoulders with fellow writers, agents, and publishers. I have submitted book proposals and manuscripts to people who are legit in the writing world. I will have appointments with these people, eat meals with them, pitch my ideas, and have my five minutes to prove that I have what it takes.

I am really looking forward to getting a clearer picture of this new thing God has been developing in me. My mom thinks I am great, and if it proves out that people in the writing world agree, then this could be the start of a really fun adventure. If this passion for writing is simply a passion that God will use to shape and mold my heart and mind, I will celebrate that too by writing the best church newsletters I can. Either way, I am looking forward to God clarifying where I stand among my peers and moving forward in an appropriate way.

Thank you for being a part of this process

I am so thankful for my little posse of friends who have encouraged me in this blog and on this writing endeavor. I thoroughly enjoy dialoging with you about ministry, students, and culture. Thank you for putting up with my horrible grammar, and for pushing back when I push too far. Thank you for humoring me with this more personal blog post. And thank you Mom for being my biggest fan I would appreciate your prayers as I jump into this new world and hobnob with agents, publishers, and middle-aged women who have written Amish romance trilogies.

May we all be continually open to feedback, criticism, and encouragement as we seek to live more fully into being the people that God has made us to be. Blessings!