I've never been good at reflecting, and as a result I think I often fail to cherish, to grow, to learn and to thank God for his ongoing work in my life. '08 was a very, very full year in many ways. A few learnings from this year that stick out:
- If you let them, the nature of youth ministry, the expectations of your church and the expectations you put on yourself will overwhelm you. I feel like all three were in full effect this year and, to be honest, I didn't manage any of them the way I would have liked. For the first time in a 20-plus year career I felt "at the end of my rope" more often than not.
- My wife is amazing. I don't talk about her much, she never travels with me and very few people outside our circle of friends and our junior high group would recognize her if they saw her. When we got married seventeen years ago, she was an 18-year old college freshman who really had no idea what she was getting into. She has already spent almost half of her young life playing a vital role in my ministry, cheering me on, loving the people around her and being an incredible mom.
- I have really good friends. My closest circle of friends is an amazing bunch of about 5 people. I gain so much from their friendship and need to work at making sure I enrich them in equal measure.
- My dad was amazing. To be certain, he wasn't "amazing" by most of the world's criteria. He wasn't a "leader", he wasn't "powerful", he wasn't "successful", He didn't own much (in fact, when he passed away a few weeks ago my brother and I literally inherited a laundry basket full of belongings). BUT he loved Jesus more than most people I've met, he loved others relentlessly, and he was in every way the kind of man the world needs more of....even though they don't realize it.
- People matter most. Friends, family, co-workers, casual acquaintances, the strangers that cross my path etc. Making the most of the encounters God allows one to have may be one of life's greatest opportunities.
- I am passionate about ministry to junior highers. I turn 43 in a couple weeks and I have long ago lost count of how many times I've been asked if I want to pursue another area of ministry. My calling to junior high ministry, and my passion for it, remains as strong as it ever has. If God has something else in store for me, I will do it.....but I sure hope he doesn't!