General Session #2:
Once again setting up pays off... this time we were able to sit in the middle of the third row. You know, there's something about having broad shoulders that's nice in a Superman sort of way but doesn't quite feel so nice when you're in a packed out aisle. (By the way - this became important later in the session)
- Thor Ramsey: Well... I like comedians, but this round of Thor Ramsey's routine had some anti-Wal-Mart punchlines early on that the audience seemed bothered by. I don't know if this was so distracting that any of the later funnier stuff seemed clouded, but he pressed on anyway. A good lesson here... if you say one off-color thing in a relationship you just might lose your ability to share the ultimate "punchline."
- Family Force 5: After sitting through their set, I found myself unsure whether to laugh at their absurdity or applaud their creativity. I think I settled on, "Yeah... whatever."
- The Skit Guys: Perhaps this was one of their cooler skits simply called "The Chair." We all got free copies of it on a DVD to take home... it left me feeling like these guys "get" youth ministry.
- DC/LA Spotlight: Sure... a shameless commercial. Yet when you think of the life change that students experience as a result of participating it's no wonder YS is behind it.
- Doug Fields: Because of his "status" in the world student ministry I never know what to expect from this guy - but everytime I am pleasantly surprised. In years past his professionalism stood out... yet this year it was his ability to vent his frustrations out loud that left me laughing, applauding, and feeling some sort of righteous anger with him. I mean, when you hear the "Purpose Driven Youth Ministry" guru say things like (paraphrased), "I wish the tools on my deacon board looked at success in student ministry beyond the numbers," it feels kind of good.
Doug's message was on the inability to say "NO" that we often feel in ministry. Here are some of his key thoughts:
- If we can say "no" we can get to a place where we can hear God's "yes. When you learn the dance between the two you can get to a place where you have space to deepen your soul.
- The recent Chicago train wreck had to do with: (1) Traveling too fast in a location that required it to go slow, (2) Warning lights that were ignored, and (3) The conductor talking on his cell phone. In the same way, our lives often echo the same circumstances (even though we tend to ignore the warning signals) Do you want to keep living at the pace you've been going at? No one wins in a train wreck.
- Heartbreak causes us to get out or speed up... seldom do we slow down and heal.
- Warning lights that you're moving too fast:
- Constant clutter (What do your desk, closets, and car look like?)
- Addiction to speed (Do you finish people's _________? Are you a constant nodder while others talk so you can get to your time to speak? Do you measure success in a grocery store by the imaginary you in the other line you would have chosen?)
- Extreme multi-tasking
- Superficiality (you try to stay on the surface with anyone because depth takes time and goal-achievement is what you're after)
- You try to please everyone and end up pleasing no one
- Relational fatigue (the people who need the best from you get the least from you)
- Spiritual emptiness (is your heart for God shrinking?)
- The only time I recognize my ugly side is when I slow down to see if I like the person I've become. We often think, "If the other people in my life would change then I wouldn't be as busy as I am." But those people won't change... even if you wait for them to.
- It's easy to say no to bad things - like junior high lock-ins. It's hard to say no to the "good things" like when people on your staff try to guilt you into doing things on your day off. If guilt tactics worked on me I wouldn't have survived all these years in student ministry. When someone reminds me that the devil doesn't slow down (so neither should we), I remind them that my role model isn't the devil... it's Jesus Christ and He spent half of His ministry slowed down with God. Maybe that's why Jesus is God and the devil is the devil.
- What would happen if you cut out half of the ways you're busy in ministry? Would you not find what you were able to focus on that much more deeper? Would your ministry be stronger? Your family tighter? Your students more recognizable?
- Every time you say "yes" to one thing you say "no" to a bunch of others. Choose your "yes's" wisely. You have to declare war on what's important to your heart... don't get distracted.
- Jesus left people unhealed. He left questions unanswered.
- The next time you find it hard to say "no," ask yourself:
- Why do I really want to say yes?
- What's the worst thing that can happen if I say no? (Sure... maybe you'll lose your job... but even worse, you could keep it and lose your family... or your intimacy with God)
- David Crowder: A quiet set... very appropriate. While he and the band started their set with "Here I Am To Worship" we were simultaneously treated to...
- The Jesus Painter: I don't care how many times I've seen Mike Lewis paint. In under 12 minutes the guy paints a powerful image of the Lord. 12 minutes! Dang... I couldn't make a good steak in 12 minutes.
As usual, Mike starts painting without you knowing what he's painting. While I've seen this one before, this time the canvass was pointed straight in my direction. As he added various strokes to the canvass, I couldn't shake the worship through song calling me to worship with my life. Throwing the curveball of the painting into the mix it was no wonder why I started welling up with tears.
Mike Lewis saved the last strokes for the very end - the eyes of Jesus. As he stepped away, the canvass pointed in my direction left Jesus staring right into my soul. I know it's just a piece of art... I'd just seen it painted. And yet... the tears flowed... and my heart was again wet.