• What is this BURNING I feel in my chest?
  • Why are my teeth clinched and my fingers balled into a fist? Is this a brutal, but necessary, surgery? Or is it a brutal, but avoidable, violation?
  • Is this a bullet being removed to save my life or is someone looking for an internal organ to sell on the black market?
  • Is this the what it feels like to give up my pride? Or is this the sinister, sinking feeling that follows the surrendering of my passion?

Of course, Pride and Passion are so very different. Passion leads to serving others and Pride leads to serving self. Giving up either feels the same, even if the results are different. Loosing Pride creates dependence on God, losing Passion creates an apathetic life.

The world is filled with fuel for the fire of pride: “Look at what I have done! This is what I deserve! Here is where I am great!”

The world is also filled with leeches that drain passion’s power: “You are no good! You have no value! Know your place, don’t step out of line! Be afraid and be little!”

I have seen the passion fade, and there are few things more terrible than apathy. I have seen the sprinters stop running. Giving up their joy in order to take a seat on the sideline. It is not long before they roll over, and play dead or even just simply be dead.

Giving up pride is painful. Of course, it’s the only path to spiritual growth, to intimacy with God. Humility frees us up to stop managing our sin, accept grace, and move forward with trust and surrender.

These feelings and thoughts are the same, (at least they are for me): surrendering pride and giving up passion. Am I enduring hardship or caving in? Am I giving my heart to God or selling out my soul?

I have seen the zombies shuffle. The thing I fear most is becoming one. Zombies create more zombies. Administrators create more administration. Zombies can’t create life, and neither can micro-Administrators create leadership.

  • When I’ve lost my pride, I feel like lashing out in attack.
  • When I’ve lost my passion, I feel like laying down forever.

And perhaps here is where the knot is thickest: maybe loosing pride and passion often happen at the same time. The difference is not in the moment that it happens, but in the moments and days ahead. Which is it that we choose to add back into our hearts, pride or passion?

Perhaps there are times when we loose pride and passion at the same time, and our goal is to restore the passion without puffing back up with pride.

Pride is about receiving glory, being admired, understood, and respected. You can loose these things and still operate out of passion.

When the grinding moments come, step into the pain.

Suffer the indignity if you can stuff serve with the same fire that got you serving in the same place.

Matt McGill blogs a ton about youth ministry over on Love God, Love Students and was gracious enough to let me post these words here on MTDB. Check out his site and be sure to subscribe!

If you ever have a disagreement with someone and you want to win, just call them prideful. It’s flawless, because from that point on, anything they say is just their pride swelling up. As long as your the first person to play the pride card, you win, every time.

So say your having a disagreement over the vision of a ministry with someone, they aren’t seeing things the way you see them, just blame it on their pride. Case closed.

I hate that. Because unfortunately, more often than not, the person who plays that card is the one who’s pride is really in the way. Sure, there can be exceptions, but if you play that card, you better check yourself.

I got that card played on me a while back and it infuriated me. There was a real issue that needed to be fixed and is still yet to be fixed because of pride. I knew my intentions and motives going in, and they weren’t flowing from my pride.

But it did get me searching for ways I was being prideful, and unfortunately as a Human being, pride is always to be found.

I take pride in my education. I feel this is a good kind of pride, for the most part, because be it as it may, graduates from my school are sought after more than any other Christian college, and so being able to say I hold my degree from there gives me a bit of a swagger, which can be good or bad.

One of the negative ways it plays out, however, can definitely come out quite a bit. I am blessed to still keep in touch with my old class mates and see them in thriving ministries. It’s amazing to me that some of the guys I was in class with have been able to achieve some of the things they have done right out of college. It’s amazing to me how many went from classes and very little experience to big churches in big cities with established healthy ministries.

Unfortunately, I can often become envious of them. Being in a small town in a small church and seeing several of my good friends with less experience than I have graduate at the same time as me and get job offers from great, large churches, where as I’m having to build in an extremely small town with what sometimes feels as not the greatest support, it can cause me to be jealous.

But I feel like this is something every small town youth pastor deals with. There is this unfortunate myth that small town student ministry isn’t as good, isn’t as important, isn’t as effective. We may not every even outright say that, but if we looked at our ministries, its being yelled.

I could never do that, my church is too small. I could never make a an atmosphere in our youth services that beckons for visitors, I don’t have the resources. I could never plan as great of a camp as that church, I don’t have the time. Whatever it is that you feel you can’t do because of your context.

And though some of it may be true, and some of it may be unnecessary (like how I think it would be awesome to incorporate video’s into our pre-message every week, that’s not necessarily important, nor do I have the time to invest in that because there are other important things to get done.)

So though that may be true, its also false, because there are things we could do, we just aren’t. We have boughten into the myth that our ministry can’t be as great as first united church down the street, so we stop trying those things and get content with what we have.

This is a very dumbed down sentence to describe it, so don’t hold this against me, but the #1 thing that grows any ministry is its leadership. I say its dumbed down because you could come back and say ” Well what about relationship with Christ, or biblical dependency, etc. etc.”

A real leader in a ministry already has that, its a given. But whats missing from that is the leadership attributes such as Vision, Delegation, Mobilization. A real leader in youth ministry will not only be teaching his students the bible, but also the vision of them mobilized to make a difference in their school. A real leader will give their students a purpose that is more than showing up on Sunday or Wednesday nights.

If you want to see your ministry grow, your students need to grow. And if you want to see your students grow, then you need to grow. Continually.

Ben Read is the Youth Pastor of students and their families at West Gate Baptist Church in Trenton, IL, a town of about 2,700 people. He blogs at Small Town Student Ministry.



GUEST POST: Take A Risk

 —  February 14, 2011 — 1 Comment

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3.-5-6

The older I get, the more I recognize I don’t have all the answers. Unfortunately, I draw this conclusion from the instances I’ve attempted to navigate life on my own and failed to experience the self-affirming outcomes I desired.

The failure I’ve mentioned is a result of pride and our pride is, in part, a result of book shelves lined with resources, a consistent flow of email newsletters, and office door handles cluttered with conference lanyards. All of these resources and experiences are great in and of themselves but they’re not meant to be the central source from which we gain our motivation, creativity, or leadership aptitude.

I will admit that it’s more convenient to lead from past experiences than wait upon fresh revelation but its rarely most beneficial. You’ve heard it said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” I believe the difference between an average leader and a revolutionary leader is their ability to take risks. The fear that every leader has is taking the wrong risks and that is where God enters the equation.

We will begin to increase success and decrease failure if we will intentionally and, at times, patiently wait upon God’s direction. God will do something in us that no book, newsletter, or conference can ever do; lead us to the calculated risks that will transform us into revolutionary leaders.

On Saturday, January 1, 2011 television history was made when the Discovery Health Channel became the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN). In terms of taking risks this is a risk few would have the stomach to take, largely due to its $160 million price tag and years of necessary planning. According to St. Petersburg Times TV/Media Critic, Eric Deggans, this move is, “likely the first time a 24-hour cable channel has focused on one person’s brand”.

This is not only a risk for the network but for Oprah Winfrey who is now faced with the challenge of converting a hour long syndicated TV show into a cable channel pumping out 1,200 hours of programming each year. The Oprah Winfrey Show began in 1986 and had been going strong ever since. Some would call her crazy for leaving that kind of legacy behind but I would call her revolutionary. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in love with everything that Oprah produces and I don’t necessarily agree with her religious or political views but you have to admit she is a wise business person.

As followers of Christ we have direct access to THE revolutionary leader and we would be foolish not to intentionally keep him at the certain of our lives. We have to submit to the realization that we don’t have everything figured out. In the presence of God we lay down our desires and pursue His revolutionary plan.

God’s waiting. It’s your move.

Shon Bradford is the student ministry pastor of deviate student ministry in Buckeye, AZ.