Friday, November 17, 2006

I Loved This Day

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. That is the only way that I know how to describe today. Debbie and I are in Cincinnati. That's in Ohio for you who are geography challenged. We are here to attend the National Youth Workers Convention. There are 4,000 youth workers who paid well over $300 for the privilege of coming. And that does not count the hotel, transportation, food and the obligatory t-shirt. I have come to this convention many times during my career as a youth pastor. But this year is different in one key way. I did not pay them to come. They paid me. Can you say, "Freebee's out the wazoo?" I mean they loaded me up with a backpack (complete with the "Youth Specialties" logo,) actual CASH to pay for meals while we are here, a check ... A CHECK ... that I can actually cash for m-o-n-e-y when I get home, a voucher to turn in for my other expenses like mileage and stuff and a free pen! Oh, and THEY pay for the hotel room!


And you know what I had to do in order to score these goodies? This so crackes me up. I cannot believe they paid me for this. (I feel like I robbed a bank or something.) I had to stand at the front of a room where a bunch of youth pastor's had freely and voluntarily come to hear what I had to say about (you will love this...) about having an ADD (attention deficit disorder) personality and still surviving in youth ministry. Anybody who knows me understands that I am the postor boy for ADD. I have not been doctor diagnosed. No, my credentials are better than that. I have been wife diagnosed. I have been children diagnosed. I have been close friend diagnosed. That carries more weight than anything Mayo Clinic could print out.

AND I HAD A BLAST! I do not know how many showed up for the seminar but the room was full. And as they came in I just decided to mess with their minds. Those who knew they were ADD in a complete and uncompromising way sat to my far left. And then they graded themselves down from there. Those on my far right were probably forced to come by their Sr. Pastor. For the first 20 minutes or so we traded our ADD youth ministry experiences. One guy said that sometimes he thinks of two things at once and tries to say them at the same time thus creating new words. I watched as nearly every head in the room bobbed in understanding and agreement. They've been there. I thought it was just me!

Then we got serious and I told them about my 2001. It's not pretty so we won't go into it here. I told them what ADD and a raging "Type A" personality drove me to when I got smacked by more than a few consecutive crises situations. I described the unrelenting pain, mental confusion and blurred vision. Then I told them about getting well. I told them about a church that loved me so much that they paid big bucks to help me survive. Without them I do believe I would be in the vinyl repair business by now. I told them what I had learned on those hard days and how God taught me so much about "soul care" for the next two years. And then the next big disaster hit. That one lasted 3 years for me personally and then I found myself being drug back under by the same currents of stress, the same pain and mental fog, the same ADD characteristics and pure fatigue. I told them that I've already been sick for a couple of months but I'm drawing the line here ... now ... and I'm moving on with God. Where? I don't know. When? I don't know. What all does it mean? I don't know. But I am committed to soul care on the personal level.

Here's what is interesting. In the middle of talking to these men and women I realized something. It was not in my notes. I believe it was from the Holy Spirit. I told them that if God gives you an assignment and you work 5 minutes longer than it takes you to complete what He told you to do ... you are asking for trouble. You are out of God's perfect will. Obey God. Period. No matter what anybody ... I repeat ... ANYBODY ... tells you. Obey God. It's the first and the greatest commandment. Jesus said that the second is like it. Love you neighbor as you love yourself. But get the order straight. We ADD youth pastor types tend to love our neighbors, better known as our youth groups, first and foremost. And we assume that because we are loving them we are pleasing God. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Our direction is to love God first and then we will love our neighbors and our youth groups out of the over flow of what He does in us as we love Him. Guys, I'm not smart enough to figure that out. But it's in the bible. Read it yourself.

Then we talked some more. When we closed a few stuck around to ask questions and seek advice. I talked with them, I prayed with them, I hugged them. They ... are me. Ok, they are 20 or 30 years younger than I am but that's why I know more than they do. That's not bragging. I've just been around for a long time and God has taught me a lot.

I loved this day. I love youth pastor's. They are some of the best people that I know. I have been honored to be one of them. I have trouble believing that anything I do with the rest of my life will be as fulfilling, as joy filled, as plain old fun as being a youth pastor. I have lived my dream for 32 years. I fully believe that God created me to be a youth pastor.

Ok, I just wanted to say all of this before time mellowed the memory. It was a dream day. A day I am grateful for. It is good to be alive and it is good to look back at the day just before you fall asleep and be able to say, "Today ... I fulfilled the purpose for which I was created."

Oh ... and did I mention that in the speakers lounge there is FREE CANDY 24/7? Unfreaken real.


Anonymous said...

YS is always good for all the freebies offered there. :-)

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear about the good experience. Just keep on bloggin'