Why I'm a Student Pastor: Part 1
I’m a Student Pastor.
Five years ago, on June 1st, 2004, I walked into the First Baptist Church of Pipe Creek, TX as their new youth minister and it only took me 33 years to get there.
In Pipe Creek proper, the sign next to the Post Office reads “pop. 87″ and the one yellow flashing light on Texas Hwy 16 is what connects that little Baptist church to the Mini Mart across the way. Inside that country church were 8 students who weren’t looking for a slick, power point using, faux hawk having, Rob Bell glasses wearing, youth guy. The only expectation those 8 students had for their youth minister was that he spend time with them in the hopes that he’d love them so that they could love him back.
That simple expectation was good for me because it was the only part of the gig I felt I might able to pull off successfully.
When I stepped through the door of that church in 2004, I walked in having no experience, no education, no confidence and absolutely no idea what I was going to do once I was there.
I’ve since learned that these are the ingredients, in God’s economy, that make good bible stories great.
Being a youth minister wasn’t my first choice.
As a matter of fact, being any type of minister within any church would’ve been the last thing I would’ve chosen for myself.
One of the reasons why it took me 33 years to darken the door of a church as a minister was that I was a pastor’s kid first.
Trust me, there’s a reason why the reputation of a “P.K” is what it is.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I got to see behind the curtain and sadly, many times I found it to be a world of isolation, neglect, sadness and discouragement.
As a kid, I remember countless times of me lying in bed hearing my mom and dad talk about “real church life”. I would hear the conversations about power-hungry deacons trying to run my dad off. At church, I remember certain church “family members” awkwardly avoiding having to shake hands with my mom after she had cancer from fear they would catch it from her. I remember lying in the church pews till 10 and 11 at night while my dad would counsel a couple that would later raise their hands in favor of voting him out of his place as pastor in the business meeting. These kind of stories are endless and honestly they’re not really worth reliving but as a kid growing up in this type of environment, the “Joy, Joy, Joy, down in my heart” was a song I sang but didn’t experience much of when it came to being a pastor’s kid.
Sadly, stories like these are more the rule than they are exception for families in ministry. So, as a P.K., what better way to cope in this environment than to smoke cigarettes behind the church, carve the words “Motley Crue and Quiet Riot” into the Sunday School room desks, and make out with girlfriends in the baptistery closet after church?
As I grew up, questions like “Why subject your own family to the dark underbelly of church life?” “Why not just ‘live and learn’ and follow what interests you?” were whispered into my reasoning.
Here was the big problem I couldn’t get around regardless of whatever finely crafted argument I swallowed or level of denial I was in:
I was created to be a pastor.
It’s what I’m wired to do and there’s no amount of running that will let me change that fact.
I’ve learned that there are two ways to do God’s will: The easy way and the hard way. If you don’t believe me, revisit the story of Jonah.
When there is a calling on your life, the calling doesn’t go away because you wish it away or try to orchestrate your circumstances to where you can’t follow it.
Like it or not, I was called to be a pastor and there were not enough excuses I could find or enough screw ups I could make that would allow me to wiggle out of it.
Here’s what you may not know or believe: You have a calling and purpose on your life as well and there are not enough excuses or screw ups that you can muster to wiggle out of it either.
Psalm 139:16 says: “You (God) saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Now, without getting into the whole “Free Will” argument, this verse reveals that every day of our lives have been recorded before we ever lived out our first moments.
So, in my case, the record shows me running from my calling for 33 years and we never see God sweating a drop over any of it.
Question: With this verse fresh in your mind, how can we argue that somehow we are able to make mistakes too big for God to clean up and rearrange for his glory?
Are you fulfilling your calling?