Families and Fathers

It’s funny how youth ministry (or any ministry profession for that matter) can infringe on your life outside of work. It’s just the nature of the job. It’s built upon relationships and constant reflection on one’s own life. I suppose this blog is even a testament to my statements!

The current topic for our Sunday youth sermons is a book called Orphan, Slave, Son by Ben Pasley. Today we covered the idea of being an orphan and how our families shape our identity in Christ. In preparation for today’s message, I had to reflect on my own family and how our parents affect our image of God as our Father. One of my colleagues asked me a lot of questions about my dad and how he’s affected my faith throughout my life.

The thoughts and conversations I had were quite challenging for me. Even though my earthly dad passed away nearly five years ago, I think there are still things I’m thinking about and working through. I tried to reflect about it via Men’s Fraternity (check out the “Garrett’s Wound” video) a few years ago, but I don’t think I fully delved into all my thoughts and feelings. This week’s message gave me a good excuse to re-hash the “dad” topic, and I’m glad it happened. I think I’ll continue thinking about some of this stuff.

Another upside to my current interest in my dad is that I’ve decided to spend some of my upcoming holiday time at home, looking through all of my family’s old photo albums. I hope I come across some funny photos and get a chance to hear my mom share some stories. Keep an eye out in early March for a bunch of old photos that I hope to scan into my digital library!

Learning to Let Go

It seems that my wife and I can’t seem to figure out a place to stay for any secure length of time. This might seem deceiving since we’ve been in Hong Kong for nearly five years. However, we’ve been on a series of one or two-year contracts. Scratch that, I’ve been on one or two-year contracts, and Kristin’s contract is indefinite with a three-month-notice clause. Regardless of these details, each year or two seems to bring about the question, “What are we doing next year?”

Lately, we’ve been asking that question again.

'Uncertainty ' photo (c) 2010, Nicu Buculei - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Will I stay at Island ECC as a youth pastor?
Will I even be a youth pastor?
Will Kristin stay at Union Church?
Will Kristin enroll in graduate school full time?

We’ve talked and debated a number of ideas and plans. However, there’s no clear path just yet. Fortunately, we’ve been clear-minded enough to just let go of all this planning. There are some actions we’ve taken to open up our prospects, but nothing definite. The month of February has been and continues to be a month of praying and waiting on God to reveal some next steps for us.

If you’re reading this, please pray for us. We don’t want to be anxious about anything. We simply want to be obedient servants of God. If we’re in His hands doing His work, I think He’ll make us content wherever we end up – even if it’s exactly where we currently are doing the jobs we currently have.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

Growing Pains

It was pointed out that my current job is not regularly utilizing, stretching, or growing my natural talents or gifts. I’m doing a good job with what I’ve been given, but I could be used for so much more.

'gifts' photo (c) 2009, Rupert Ganzer - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/I didn’t want to dwell on the negatives, so I starting thinking of the ways that I’ve been growing and stretching since I started this job. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • I’ve been given lots of opportunities to practice patience
  • I’m learning to submit to authority way more frequently
  • My video and media skills have improved, even though there’s a long way to go in that area
  • I’m more organized than usual

Though I question God about many things all the time, I know I’m not one to contend with Him in the long run. He’s got a plan greater than what I can see. Nevertheless, I have a few questions: Am I supposed to be a youth pastor? If so, is it supposed to be at Island ECC? Are the things I’m learning worth the things I’ve sacrificed? Is my church job supposed to help put my teaching career in perspective? Hopefully I’ll learn the answers to these questions sooner than later. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to trust God as much as possible.