When I pose the question, “Have I been faithful to the people God has given to me?” I’m speaking of those IN relationships that function as community of faith and accountability: family and close relationships with whom I share covenant identity. Faithfulness here looks like representing the family well, allowing transparency and the challenge of relationships to be a place of processing out decisions, and straight up putting others before oneself.
Again, Jesus in the garden represented His father well in the long-suffering for the very disciples who fell asleep during his greatest intimate struggle, and later fled during his greatest public struggle. He prayed for them. Amazing.
I’ve been given an incredible wife and family and an oikos (extended family) that is invaluable. It’s more valuable than a ministry opportunity, more valuable than a pay increase, more valuable than a perfect-fit-job-description.
For years, I’ve considered myself a “lifer” in youth ministry. I have a deep passion to see young people be connected to and conductors of the Kingdom of God. I’ve had a mentor and good friend say often, “There is no higher calling than to work with youth.”
The thing is, after years of doing this stuff, the young people and team members I’ve invested in are not all super-star missionaries, pastors or evangelists (though I have seen that in many of their futures). The question here is, “Have I made disciples?” At the end of the day, that is what is important, right? That I faithfully reinvested what was invested in me; that the DNA of heaven would be passed on and propagated as a result of my labor.
Whether my time in any given position be interim or holding tenure, I’ve learned to view my time with the people I am given to as short. Jesus had three years with the disciples. The longevity of the Good News given to them has surpassed their lifetimes and will ours as well. If I can translate that kind of focus and urgency into the way I pour into mine, I think I just may be a bit effective!
Keeping it Straight
In short, my encouragement for those with the Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go” playing in your head:
Stay the course until you’ve been faithful to God and His call on you in this season, being sure your affirmation and identity are found in Him. Submit to your community and fight for the integrity of it. Sow generously and make disciples. If you’re up to all of these, the question whether to stay the course or search for another context may be easier to answer.