I remember back to my first interview, then with Central Church of Christ in Cleburne (this is pre merger, I should write about our merger at some point).
I remember very little about the interview, it was literally my first interview with a church. I do remember very vividly the committee asking, “where do you plan to be in 5 years?” I answered the only way I could, but I really did mean it. I told them in 5 years I planned on being where ever I began my ministry. I thought teenagers needed more constants in their life. I wanted to see groups of kids go through their high school career with one youth minister. I am sure most snickered and rolled their eyes at my response; you see I was naïve, I was only 23 years old.
Here I am 9 years later and a lot has changed, I am married, I have children, I own a home, I have ALMOST finished my MDiv, I have found Satan invented the lock-in and summers are A LOT LONGER. Also, if I forgot to mention summers are much longer. A lot has changed, even the kids, this May I will see my 3rd class graduate with the students going through our entire youth ministry at Westhill with me as their youth minister. I have loved it.
Something else has been built during the past nine years as well; Doug Fields calls it “relational equity.” As I have poured my life into the students and families at Westhill a lot has changed, including the way I am trusted, both by students and parents. At Catalyst this year Andy Stanley told us, “your job is not to fill up others cups, it is just to empty yours.” We can’t fill up others lives, only God is capable of doing that. Our job is simply to pour out our life in service to them. Maybe I did not have the words of Andy with me for the past 9 years, but I felt like he put words to what I have tried to do.
One thing I do know is ministry has changed here for me and it is not because I have become better at what I do. Although, I think I have gotten better at preaching, teaching, leading and equipping. But I think the real reason my ministry has changed so much is because I have been here, pouring out my cup. I have been there at the birthday parties and the funerals. I have been there to celebrate and been there to cry. I have been to the first concert and the last game. I have celebrated, I have cried, I have laughed, I have mourned, I have explained, I have made peace, I have been there. I have not always done it perfectly or even right, but I have been there and it makes all the difference in ministry. I would say the same is true for Cami.
I love the words of Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.” NIV 1Thessalonians 2:8 It is what ministry is all about. Never underestimate the power of simply being present in people’s lives; you might not have the words to say but there is nothing more powerful than just being there. It says more than your words ever could.