2 comments on “Confessions…

  1. Reblogged this on victoriouSurvivor and commented:
    Wow! As I read this it took me back…literally transported me to a time when life was not near as good, near as fun, near as fulfilling as it is now. I’m so glad that this precious man of God, my husband, realized where we were going and is leading us to follow God and not whatever latest and greatest thing is at the top of the “trend list”. GREAT READ!

  2. Finally got the chance to sit down and read this. Can I just say that I think I’m glad I’m old? Old, in the sense that I’m just too gosh darned tired and overworked to have to deal with “trendiness”. I know that my simple-ness can also be as much a trap at the other end of the spectrum if I allow it to be. I have always been jealous of the great speakers, the ones with the wit and wisdom. Alas, for reasons I shall never know until I can ask Jesus face-to-face, my lot in life appears to always be tied to students. They are my first ministry love and I cannot escape them. Given my being old school (literally), that just does not seem to mix in this day and age. So what does an old, old man do about such things…

    * I am who I am.
    One of the first things I did with this latest youth gig (sic.) was to openly appeal to my students to not expect me to be the past couple of guys. I simply cannot be anyone but me. That truth is really liberating, because it frees me up to simply be the very best me I can be! I am simple, I talk with a deep East Texas drawl, I have a tendency toward the corny, and can be downright deaf sometimes, but that is me – take it or leave it.

    * I must own my own faith.
    I cannot parasite myself to those whom I esteem and admire. God did not call me to model other youth ministers. I have to play with the cards God dealt me at birth. I have guys in this area that I love… Grady McDonald, Jake Conner, Danny Sammons, Eric Trimble, Tony Harp, Mark Rogers, John Roach, Wayne Haney, to name a few. I love how God has gifted each of them, but I especially love how they have gifted God in exercising their own faiths in their ministries. I cannot be any of these guys, nor have their relationship with God. It’s up to me to be a self-feeder and blaze my own ministry trail.

    * Lives, not butts!
    The simplicity of student ministry boils down to students knowing you care, and that can only be accomplished through investing in their lives OUTSIDE the church building. Success is measured in relationships, not numbers. Probably one of the harshest lessons I’ve had to realize and learn, especially when you have so many fingers pointing your way for why you hardly have a youth group left. You love and invest in what God has given to you, you connect with their friends, and you make visitors feel special and welcome. I cannot put butts in the chair; only God can do that. My job is to genuinely love, genuinely care, show up at games, concerts, plays, awards, and whatever else I can find important in their lives, as well as to challenge, discipline, forgive, encourage, and always tell the truth in love. I think the word “invest” sums it up pretty good.

    * Letting God steal my show
    No offense to Toby Mac, but the man has it right. I am a teacher at heart, which means I am susceptible to scripts, notes, points, and intentions, as well as lots of doses of self-criticism and expectations. The best laid plans of man have produced some of the sorriest messages known to man and student. Prepare, we must. Study is not optional, yet experience has taught me that a message must be delivered in light of immediate, spontaneous sensitivity to the direction or redirecting of the Holy Spirit. A lesson or message sacrificed on the altar of surrender… now that’s power!

    * Leaving the results to Him
    God’s will, God’s timing, God’s purposes, God’s intent. The hardest thing in ministry to me, is avoiding trying to change people yourself, trying to make them understand, and trying to make them grow up and grow out. All I can do is all I can do… love, listen, model, speak, and pray. God has been teaching me so much about prayer lately. Jeremiah 23:29 has near replaced Psalm 27:1 as my life verse recently, thanks to the life message of a dear lady saint of God spoken at her funeral last month. God’s Word in prayer is a fire and it is he who breaks up the hardened ground! He dwells in eternity and those prayers are ever fresh before his face. I can’t change one single heart, but my prayers before his face, along with my faithfulness to his call, are more than enough to do work in lives, even if that work bears fruit long after old Joe is in the ground.

    So, confessions of the old guy. The old guy is SO happy he is not a young guy in a trend-heavy church age. What did it say in Revelation 3, about the church at Laodicea? They were rich, they had stuff, and had no needs. Surely they must have had all the latest and greatest, the pristine model for all others to chase after. Yet the divine report card found them poor, wretched, and naked. Lord, please keep me simple!!

    Yeah, I confess, I’m long-winded. I guess God made me that way.

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