I graduated from Bible college and knew everything. I had my first 10 sermon series ready. I had all these ideas that I was GOING to implement within my first two days on the job. We were GOING to grow immediately. All my friends from Bible college were going to be jealous. People were gonna be like, “Noelle and Taylor are such great youth pastors. I wish I could live with them and have their awesomeness rub off on me…”
And then I woke up and realized how much of a cheesehead I was being.
Within a month of moving home from Bible college I was told that we were taking over the youth ministry. The first few months were great… We lost leaders, and some of the ones that stuck around didn’t want us there. Preaching was just awful. I quickly realized that all those brilliant sermon series I had prepared my sophomore year of college were just the opposite. They were just terrible. I was no longer surrounded by hundreds of other young leaders aspiring to build the church. I was in Maple Valley, a city about 1/100th the size of Portland. I was in my second year of marriage living upstairs in my parents’ house. I worked nights and Noelle worked days, which meant we saw each other at church and on Saturday mornings. And all of our free time consisted of trying to make this youth ministry not completely fall apart.
I pretty much hated everything. But for some reason God kept reminding us that we were on a journey… one that we’re still on.
We learned a tough lesson that we still have to re-learn from time-to-time: When you hate the process, the process hates you back and sets out to make your life miserable until you realize that God has you where you’re at for a reason. I know that’s long and not profound… but seriously. Whenever I got frustrated with where the youth ministry wasn’t going (weekly) or how many student’s weren’t coming (weekly), or the time I didn’t have to spend (daily), my focus was turned away from where God was trying to take me… what he was trying to teach me.
Thankfully I have a good wife who didn’t let me slump for too long. She constantly reminded me of what God had already done in such a short time. All the ways He’d provided. All the things that were actually working. Once I began to take my eyes off of the leaders we didn’t have, I was able to see the potential in the ones we did have. When I stopped focusing on the amount of students causing us stress (plenty), I was suddenly able to see the ones who were there, hungry.
Matthew 6:22-23 says, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”
If your perspective is on what’s not working, it’s going to keep not working. If your perspective is on what God is doing in spite of what’s not working, you’ll suddenly see the a whole new set of opportunities.Don’t hate the process, embrace it.
*If you want something to hate, there are so many things I can give you: pickles, mustard, android phones, every Alicia Keys song, burps…