Next week is a prime example of who I am. I, along with a brave crew of leaders, will be taking 70 teens to camp for a week.
I can hear you saying now, “Are you crazy!?” Well, maybe. Pray for me.
The camp is called “Launch”. There are so many things holding down. Peer pressure to fit into the world’s mold regarding drugs, alcohol and sex are just the beginning. A fragile self-image or hurting home life is all-too-often the reality a teen comes to camp with. We want to give them an uplifting week, teaching them how to “defy gravity” in this world.
The week will be filled with some lights-out fun. Horseback riding, paintball, and of course, an epic climbing tower that freaks me out every time I try to amble up it. Sometimes I think, “I have the most fun job in the world.” Hanging around these teens keeps me young (or makes me old quickly, I haven’t decided yet).
But there’s also another component that runs throughout the week. We’ll worship God together, walk through the book of Colossians, and learn how to tap into all God has for us in a dynamic, genuine relationship with Him.
My favorite part of the week, hands down, is getting to share my experience as a Christ follower, passing it on to the next generation. This is the “lane” that, through years of experimentation, I have learned to run in. I searched through my college years for other ways to spend my life. Disturbed with the pain and suffering I saw in the world, I considered careers in medicine, education and counseling. All helping roles, I was longing to fulfill my desire to change the world for the better in some tangible way.
In the end, none of the aforementioned pursuits, as worthy as they are, captured my imagination like ministry. Teachers educate whole generations. Doctors heal the sick and broken. Counselors guide and comfort the hurting. Each of these noble professions, done well, require a calling of their own. I respect and value those who answer that call. As for me, however, I realized none of them were the appropriate destination.
I recently read a quote that encapsulated the way I feel about becoming a pastor to do my life’s work.
“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” – Henry David Thoreau
Look around you. My guess is it won’t take long for you to identify hurt, evil and injustice in this world. If you’re human, you have to eventually answer the “why” and “what now” questions. How do we “strike at the root” of evil? How do we make a lasting impact that will leave the world a better place when we’re gone?
The best way I know how to help people is to introduce them to the One who has come to heal the broken, teach all who are willing to listen, and comfort the distraught. Jesus Christ, God eternal, became man in order to display who He truly is. Then, still a young man, He gave Himself over to a grisly death, sacrificing His perfect life as payment for our shortcomings.
If that’s true, that God died for us, and was then resurrected so that we could share in new life, what better message could there be?
The reality of entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ has been the single greatest change agent in my life. Simply introducing others to the God who created and loves them is my life’s mission. Next week I’ll get to do that with 70 teens. Throughout the rest of my life, God-willing, I’ll get to tell thousands of others. That’s why I write. That’s why I preach. That’s why I train others who want to do the same.
What about you? What’s your calling? Has God designed you to influence the world through another path?
I’d love to hear in the comments.