Life Without Walls

by Drew Pederson
originally appeared 06.27.12 @ Drewism

This will sound crazy to anyone under the age of 30, but there was a time when people weren’t constantly available.  There was a time before cell phones and wifi, where you had to memorize your friends’ telephone numbers and call and ask their parents if they could come to the phone.  And when you were away from your house, nobody thought anything of leaving a message on the answering machine and waiting for you to get back to them. Now we live in a society where we get ticked off and hang up if a call goes to voicemail.  Where we carry our phones, email and dozens of other ways to get in touch in our pockets.  With that has come the expectation that we’re always available- only a phone call or email or text message away.

I think another interesting side effect of this is that the idea of personal privacy has slowly eroded.  Even as phrases like “work/life balance” come into our lexicon, we undermine that very balance by mixing the two at every turn.  (As an aside, I think our parents and grandparents find that phrase hilarious.  They only knew a world where you put in your time at work then came home and the two rarely, if ever, mixed.) It starts slowly, we add our work email on our phone figuring it can’t hurt to be able to check it “just in case there’s an emergency”. That turns into checking it every morning when we first wake up, then before we fall asleep and soon we find ourselves firing off replies to emails from our phones before we even get to work just to “head things off”. It’s a slippery slope from there.

As it turns out, this is entirely a generational thing, one which I’m not sure if the technology caused or simply enabled. I found some pretty interesting statistics in an article I was reading today-

70% of people surveyed had some sort of connection with coworkers or superiors on either Facebook or Twitter.  That means 70% of us are willingly opening up our private lives to our coworkers.  I’m almost old enough to find this shocking but still young enough to be a willing participant in this trend.

So what does this mean for us in youth ministry?  We’re dealing with a generation that approaches life with a fairly open-book policy.  They don’t create artificial divisions in life based on the context of the relationship.  There is simply in or out.  If you are trustworthy (or just haven’t proven yourself untrustworthy yet…) you’re in. Once you lose that trust, you’re on the outside looking in at privacy settings and locked accounts.  They truly prefer not to put up walls between themselves and those they know until they feel like they have to.  Youth leaders have an interesting opportunity here to interact and start real conversations with students based on what they’re (over)sharing.

 

Family or Hired Hand

For many years I’ve read the words of many who espouse that pastors should remain somewhat detached from their people. Serve them well, but don’t get too close. We don’t want to get too close because when we do, we could get burned, hurt, have a hard time saying the “hard” things that maybe we’ll have to someday say, because leaving will be harder …

I disagree with that approach. We need to allow ourselves to be adopted into a church family, to become one of them, to be a part of them. Get close. We, as pastors, need our people as much, if not more, than they need us.

This past Wednesday I was sent to the ER for an emergency appendectomy.  My poor wife spent most of Wednesday afternoon and evening, and all day Thursday, fielding phone calls, text messages and emails from our church family asking about me, letting us know they were praying for us. On Friday I spent a good part of my day fielding those same messages from my hospital room and getting visitors once we arrived home. I can’t tell you the number of people today (Sunday at church) who have asked me how I’m doing.

What an encouragement from my family. Yup, they are my family. I love them. And I know they love me and us. Today marks eighteen years here at our church and I wouldn’t trade the relationships for anything, even “protection” from the stuff that “could” happen when we become family. Don’t trade the benefits to protect yourself from what could be.

Thanks AUC for allowing us to be a part of your family, for loving us, for praying for us, and for eighteen amazing years.

I Love What I do

Saw this video which is an advertisement for the upcoming Youth Specialties conferences.

This is what it is about. This is why we do youth ministry. It is about the conversations. About the lives we are allowed by God to speak into. About the relationships. About the impact. About listening. About encouraging.  It’s about loving students enough to share with them, not only the Gospel of God, but our lives as well (1st Thessalonians 2:8).

Seth’s Thots On Andy Stanley’s Message: “Leadership Is A Stewardship”

by Seth Cross

At the Catalyst Conference in 2006 Andy Stanley challenged and encouraged Christian leaders with a quote from the book of Daniel: “The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.”

This idea combats the tendency for leaders to become arrogant and prideful. It is hard to not become self-centered when you are one of the heads of a ministry and the center of so many lives. However, this verse from Scripture should remind us leaders that our position is temporary. We are accountable for what we do and we can be replaced. This should humble us and remind us that we are only the vessel God uses. Nothing we accomplish happens because we are great, but rather because God is great and works through us. John the Baptist understood this when he said: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We must be humble and allow God to flow through and from us.

However, the fact that God has put you and I in ministry in the first place should free us up to be diligent and fearless in our work. If we are in a position of leadership, God has put us there for a purpose. God put us in leadership because He plans to use us. So we must be bold and work hard. We must not fear man, but fear God. Whatever position we hold, we do not hold it because of our own ability or because someone saw potential in us and put us there, but rather because God has placed us in a position of leadership and plans to use us for his glory.