I recently gave in and set myself up with a Facebook account. I must admit that I like it better than MySpace, but that isn’t the point of this entry. One thing Facebook does is automatically connect you with people you might know who are also in their system They do this via places you have worked, schools you went to, etc.
Not long after I clicked a few clicks did I see names and faces I recognized, one that goes back to preschool. As I clicked through their profiles I realized that I was getting a glimpse at a sampling of people, including myself, who all started out in essentially the same environment and have gone a variety of directions. Actually, you could divide it up into two directions; liberal and conservative, Christian and not.
Then I started to daydream (which I’m prone to do). What if I had the chance to sit down and chat with some of these people? Or, what if some of them showed up at my church? What would I say? How would I teach? Would it be different that how I do now? The reality is that these people are my peers, literally.
In high school I was friends with everyone and no one. I respected all and was respected by all. Jocks, stoners, smokers, nerds, artsy, pretty much everyone. At the same time I wasn’t really a part of any of them. I was (and am) in extroverted introvert. I was a compromised Christian. I was active in my youth group but went too far with the Christian girls I dated. I wasn’t an influence for Christ. I figured people would just notice. They didn’t. I was a nice kid, a good kid.
As I look through the profiles of my classmates the inevitable happens. I compare what they have done with their lives with what I have done with mine. Like beauty, influence and significance are in the eye of the beholder. Some people have been very public and aggressive (for lack of a better term) with their lives and passions. And successful.
On the one hand I don’t feel very influential, significant, or successful. On the other hand that can’t be true. As a youth pastor an intern I know I had something to do with those kids who are now all grown up and have served God all over the world. As a yoyo man I did some 1,500 shows for some 300,000 kids in 31 states and three foreign countries. I had to have had some kind of impact on some of them beyond entertaining them for 45 minutes. With almost two years of senior pastoring under my belt and video and audio files going out over the internet all over the world, I would hope and pray that someone is being built.
Does it sound like I’m having a pity party? I’m not really. I guess I’m just taking stock of things. I saw part of a biography about Chris Farley this morning. I’d seen it before. Like him I had a dream of being on Saturday Night Live. Had I given everything in my life over to doing that I might have made it. If nothing else, Chris made people laugh. He did much more than that of course. He was influential. It both came naturally and was a lot of work. He paid his dues.
If God is going to use me to be influential I have to do likewise. I have to give everything in my life over to doing that. I have to break out of my habit of if it isn’t easy I don’t do it. In school being noticed came easy to me. Music, drama, school-spirit awards. I didn’t have to work at it. Getting out of my high school bubble I quickly realized that I was once a big fish in a little pond. Now I’m a little fish in the ocean.
My flesh wants to live in a cave. My spirit wants to touch peoples hearts, lives, and minds. This is where that whole die to self and take up my cross thing comes into play. What am I going to do with all of this? Something. When I study and prepare to teach, I’m going to try and factor in, “What if Dustin, Kate, or Haly were to walk in today? What would I want them to hear? How would I want to come across? If this was their only chance to ever hear God’s word, what would they need to hear?”
Teach who you have, preach to who you don’t.