Ok, I know everyone says men never ask for directions. Truly, I am one of those men. Well, when it comes to driving anyway, I almost never ask or accept directions from passengers. In my defense I have a navigation system in my car, and I use it constantly, even driving around the neighborhood, finding faster ways to get home after dropping off the youth at their houses. Now, before this car I always researched where I was going, and gladly accepted directions from other people (no, I'm not the "typical male").
When it comes to living my life I tend not to be quite as good at taking direction. I like to lead others, but it is harder for me to take leadership. I feel like I have a lot of the answers, or that training or leadership don't tell me anything I don't already know. I mean, I get some information out of training, but I tend not to really gain a ton of knowledge (though I bet some of that may be my lack of listening correctly).
Over the last few years that has been changing a bit. Over the last two weeks that's been changing a LOT. I've been listening more and more to God and those around me. I'm not letting my personal navigational beacon guide me much anymore (notice I say much, my personal desires are still pushing me more than they probably should). I've been listening to God and actually seeking guidance from those around me who know more than I do.
Over the next few entries (and possibly years) I'm going to talk about where I feel God is leading my life. There will be the random thought bubbles to keep it interesting. But I feel like I feel as though I'd like people to know what it feels like to really be led by God. Hopefully it's as interesting as random thought bubbles (is that even a phrase).
As my wife noticed, I write better than I speak. I'm able to add details which I'm not able to communicate as well in person (though with my hand gestures and expressions I probably communicate a lot). If you're not interested, don't read. but if nothing else it gives me a way to give my wife a look into what I'm thinking and forgot to tell her, so we can talk more about it later. And really, besides God, what higher purpose do I have in life besides my wife and daughter?
So, here's to life changes. May they keep us fresh and following Him.
I can't believe it's been 10 days since I posted an entry. It's been a really busy 10 days, but there's been so much on my mind I haven't felt ready to share anything. I'm going to give it another day I believe. But I'll at least throw in my devotion in case you have been interested in those posts (though they never get any comments).
All of my life I've been young, or at least younger than I felt I deserved. I had a friend in middle and high school who was 5 years older than me who helped me get my first job at a cable company when I was 11. I was running some management, financial, and technical support duties at the company by 15-16.
Imagine it, some 15 year-old come swaggering into your house to install your cable and get everything working correctly. Sounds weird to me now, but at the time I didn't understand why people didn't think I was really the installer when I was at the door. In reality though I'd been following someone else around for a few years, and I knew the cable set-up in apartment buildings really well. I put together rooms that take signals from satellites and send them through a community and can still explain to you what channel scramblers are and how they work.
Right now, while many of the youth know I'm almost older than dirt, lots of adults see me as really young. Too young to know enough about God to teach someone else about Him. While I'm certainly not as versed in the bible as I wish I were, God has given me the chance to really make a difference in someone's life and lead them to Him.
Years ago I focused my energies on work, and was the best cable technician I could be. I learned everything I could about the business, from management to computer programming. Now my focus has changed, toward that all important One. And now I have the chance to live scripture, to study it and share it with all those around me.
So, while I may be young I'm going to be the best God follower that I can be. My labor will strive for full acceptance and I will put my hope in the living God. When someone looks down on me for my lack of experience or age, it won't bring me down. I was not brought here by those who look down on me. I was brought here by God and given support by these blessed followers around me. It is for them that I, that we, preach.
I Think I'm Going To Be Sick
As my recent entries have mentioned, my life has been on kind of a whirlwind since the mission trip. I still have one entry to re-write from my journal during the week, I just need to track down the journal. But in case you haven't noticed, this has been my week (and summer I guess) of discontent. The only think I can think about lately when it comes to work is how I can do the best job possible until the day I get to leave. I just don't where I'm leaving to.
So I've been spending the past week really talking to God and asking for His guidance on where I should be heading right now. I've gone on a bunch of walks and really gotten the message that I need to slow down and watch the world. I need to just relax, let the message come in its own time and just keep my eyes open.
This morning Father Rob was talking to me about my entry about not caring (he's been making jokes about that one since I posted it). He was telling me that it looks like I may be making the real concrete step toward priesthood. I was incredibly moved by that, so moved, as I headed home, that I literally felt sick. I mean I had a topsy turvy stomach, those queasy feelings and almost thought I should pull over but decided the feeling would pass. It's been three hours now and the feeling is still there. So long as it goes away in the next day or so I guess.
I'm not completely sure this is really the decision God has for me right now. But then I've been saying that for years. I think it's time to do some more watching and slowing until I really am sure. But more and more it seems like the mission trip did more than change my outlook on youth ministry, and may have really applied to ministry all together.
I mean, this seems crazy. I have a great job, wonderful family nearby and am blessed with youth who live lives that I can only hope my daughter Rachel would emulate. Heck, do I really think I could come up with a compelling sermon every week? My wife loves her job and really I've just begun to feel stable in life. But then I guess that's it, why should I feel stable when there are so many things I could be doing to rock the world?
So, any advice or opinions? Heck, any time you've been led down a path you were scared to go but had no choice? Really, anything would be great :)
Ever since I was a kid I loved to walk. I wonder if it's partially because it took me until I was 18 months old to figure out how (late for a baby, Rachel was walking at 10). Seriously though, I've always liked walking. There's the beauty of things around you, the ability to get yourself lost but find your way back easily (in a car getting lost may mean a mile's worth of driving, lost walking means cutting through someone’s yard).
There's also the solitude. For someone who was as shy as I was, solitude was a wonderful gift. When you walk alone you're there with just yourself and God (and my dog in tonight's case). When you walk with a friend you're not alone, but it is one of the few times in this life where people aren't all around you and possibly eavesdropping, it's really just the two of you in your own world.
I realized one other thing tonight about myself while walking. I always try to be the best at whatever I work on. Notice I didn’t say try to do the best, I really want to research and do the job the best way possible. It's good in some ways, making me stretch to fulfill peoples' needs. But it can also lead to some issues. I often see other people doing a better job than me and instead of learning from them I try and figure out what I can do to be better. Recently that even turned into me talking down about someone doing better than me, finding flaws in their method. Well, everything has flaws (especially myself), but that doesn't mean I should point them out.
I've sometimes wondered why I like walking more than other things, like gardening, playing games, running or biking. I think it's really because with all those other things I would compare myself to someone else (and possibly find myself wanting). So then I'd have to make a better garden or bike harder, or just do my best. With walking there's no competition, I can go at my own pace and enjoy what's around me.
During the mission trip I spent all of my energy building people up. I did very little joking about people's faults (I wish I'd done none) and really focused on the gifts and great things each person did. There was no feeling like they did better than I did, and I learned a few things (such as the YouthWorks Club time is a good model for our youth group).
Each night I went to bed smiling, happy and reliving some of the day. I thought about the great things people did around me and the great feeling I got from being able to share those times. Times like when our crew offered to stay late and finish staining a woman's deck, almost missing dinner (and after 4 exhausting days). The time I sat on the fence in Montana with three or four youth group guys and talked about relationships while sharing silences as we watched a storm 60 miles away. The time I was able to tell each youth leader on the mission trip what an incredible difference they made in my life and the life of the kids (and the warming feeling when they told me about the good job I did). Or the foot washing service where I was paid a couple of the best compliments I'd ever heard, one person asking why I wasn't there 10 years ago for their kids, or the youth who came right toward me for a hug and to share some kind words and the moment. Times like these literally move me to tears (just ask anyone in our church group circle :) ).
I went to bed happy. There are times in life I go to bed so worried about tomorrow, or what I did wrong today. When you spend your day building people up and noticing what a gift they are, you can head off to dream land with some incredible thoughts. They lead to happy dreams and a great start to the next day.
My point is simply this. We should always do the best we possibly can at any given task. God led us to that task and we should honor His request by doing it as well as he knows we can. At the same time we need to notice the great things those around us do. Even if you barely know someone, if you see them go out of their way for you (or someone else) a quick word or short e-mail is enough to make their day and your own. So I simply ask this, when you're with other people, can you acknowledge one thing someone did well? Can you let them know?
Back in the Real World
Well, I'm back at in the office today. I worked from home yesterday which helped get me ready for this. Unfortunately I still feel really disjointed. I look around my office, at my shirt and tie, at the job I'm doing and wonder how it's affecting me. Sometimes I really feel like this job is just leeching the life out of me, taking out a lot of energy without really giving anything back to the community. I continually get complaints about things which need to be fixed. Or need to look for work to keep myself busy and feeling like I am making a difference.
I was just reading an article today in the Washington Post titled Boredom Numbs the Work World
. It definitely made me realize that I am bored at work, even when I think I'm busy. Over the past year my day has just dragged on. Last week we were running so much and so quickly that I didn't have time to do anythign besides take pictures off of the camera each night. Otherwise every moment was filled with spending time with people around me, painting, helping or leading. I wasn't bored at all this past week, even when I was relaxing at the house all morning.
I've had some amazing things said about me, some have literally moved me to tears. The hard part to grasp is that those thigns were said of youth and adults in our church, friends or family (never from co-workers). Kind of makes me wonder whether I'm in the right position or whether I'm just in a work-funk after this trip.
Anyway, it's been a hard transition back to the real world. So now I'm goign to be spending a lot of energy on helping God lead me where He wants me to go. Prayers are always appreciated.
I Just Don't Care
I just hopped out of the shower and threw on some clothes, namely green shorts and a red t-shirt. Sure, the colors kind-of go together, but only if it's Christmas. The interesting thing though is that I realized I just don't care about it. Heck, yesterday on our flight back from a mission trip I was wearing green shorts (the same ones), a purple polo shirt, black shoes with black socks with a corduroy short and a sweatshirt tied around my waist. Here I'm out with a huge chunk of the youth and adults, looking like a serious fashion faux-pas and I just didn't care.
As I mentioned, I just returned from a 6 day mission trip with 3 extra days touring Yellowstone and relaxing in Montana. I was one of the leaders in our group of 19 youth and 10 adults (teamed with another church that brought 18 people as well). We worked on the Crow Reservation, making a bit of a different and each of us deepening our faith in Christ. This was all topped off with some relaxing and incredible fun in Montana, just hanging out with the youth and growing close to each-other.
On the way back I began trying to get back into the swing of things. Get my mind back on working and life here. The problem was that I really didn't look forward to coming back. The only thing pulling me home was how desperately I missed my wife and daughter. I had an ache I missed them so much. But all the rest I just didn't look forward to. This morning I figured out what it was…
I just don’t care about this stuff anymore. I don’t care how many DVD’s I own (or what the next one coming out is). I don’t care about working at a job in which I don’t get to work with people as my primary focus (and instead have a focus of building business). I don’t care how nice my car is, or about the quality of my back yard. I don’t care about reading the newspaper. I don’t even care about watching TV anymore (a big shock for those who know me). I don’t care whether I’ve upset someone at work or church (even Father Rob to some extent).
What I care about is what I’ve focused on this past week. I care about my family. I care about those in youth group more than I can ever explain. I care about the adults on the trip and their lives. I care about God and bringing each of the youth and adults closer to Him. I care about communicating stories of my life to help guide others. I care about helping those around me. I care about being liberal and showing people how cool it really is to be a Christian. I care about individuals and not organizations. Really though, I care about relationships. Building bonds with others which mold lives. Having my own life molded by others.
Now, I’ll be continuing my job (I just can’t live in this area if I don’t). I’ll continue mowing the lawn each week (otherwise my wife will kill me and I care about my family more than anything). I’ll continue getting DVD’s (though not so many as before). I’ll continue to watch TV (though maybe not so much as before).
The scary thing is coming in the next few days. I don’t care about the above things because I haven’t had them for a week. Now that my life is back to the old whims of the world I wonder how much this feeling will change and I’ll fall back into my old ways. Wanting to watch more TV, watch TV or spend tons of time on the Internet.
This entry doesn’t really have a question like the others. They are just my thoughts and feelings after returning from our mission trip so that I don’t forget them. If there’s a question anywhere in here it is simply this… With things you have learned or decided to give up, how is it you continue to not care about those things?