Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Plow the Road

Greetings from NC! Sometimes on the #NarrowRoad our walk is not about us. It's about clearing obstacles for others as they seek to follow Jesus in their lives and their ministries. Sometimes we just simply need to plow the road. Witness the following account...

In November of 2000 I attended the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta. This was my first convention as Youth Pastor of the Union Church of Hinsdale, and I accompanied by David Knecht. David was the chairperson of the search committee that brought me to UC. He was a man in his forties who had built and sold a computer company, and now had lots of time on his hands. He was giving that time to serve God, and especially the youth of UC. I liked David a lot and was glad he was going to his first NYWC. Funny story- we were to stay at a Marriott in Atlanta for the convention, and when the former CEO of Marriott, who was a member at UC, found out he wanted to upgrade us to a luxury suite. I said no thanks, explaining to him that youth workers staying in a luxury suite would be the targets of many jokes and quite possibly an investigation...

As David and I flew to Atlanta, settled into our meager accommodations (HA!) and begin to explore the NYWC, a question that had been nagging me through my first 8 months at UC came to the forefront of my mind. Why had David not applied for the job I now had? He knew the people and high society culture of UC that so frustrated me; he was one of "them." He clearly loved Jesus, students and student ministry. At the convention he was like a kid in a toy store; everything amazed him! I recognized it in him because it had been true for me for so many years. He soaked up everything. I introduced him to many of the legends of youth ministry, and he was a little starstruck. He loved the seminars, the speakers, the music- everything! And to complete his experience, I made sure he got his first ever Chick-fil-A sandwich. David. like so many before him, was now addicted to the NYWC.

At some point during that week I had a chat with an old friend, who knew me well and who had been in ministry a long time. I shared with him some of my frustrations, and specifically my thoughts about David being the right person for the job I currently had. As we talked, Todd reminded me that 15 years earlier I had taken a job with the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends. After a short time at that ministry I had similar feelings about Chris Jorgensen who had volunteered years with the youth there, only to see me get the job she wanted. I realized when I left NEYM that God's purpose for me there had been to prepare things for Chris. I was there 9 months, and then she got the job and served them brilliantly for many years. Like a snow plow on the highway, sometimes our ministry is just to plow the road and clear the path for someone else. John the Baptist did it for Jesus. I had done it for Chris. And now, my wise friend was saying, maybe I was at UC to get everything set up and ready for David to succeed. It was, in many ways, a hard pill to swallow. I had moved my family a thousand miles so I could be a "star." I had gone to UC to be a closer, not a set-up man. But those were my reasons. Perhaps God had a different design in mind. And on the #NarrowRoad, God is the one calling the shots.

And that is exactly the way things turned out. Less that a year later I left Union Church and without even forming a search committee the church gave the position to David. He served there for a number of years, doing wonderful things with the youth and the community. It is so tempting to look back on my days in Hinsdale as a failure. But it is also a wonderful thing when you know you have been used by God for His purpose. My time as a plow was a service to the kingdom of God. What else can we ask for on our journey? "LORD...send me!" Even if it's just to plow the road...

Because of Jesus,

2 comments:

  1. awesome post! Thanks so much for this one Carl, it really speaks to me. I've spent a lot of time just sort of filling it at one role or another where I was basically just waiting for someone to show up and take over.

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    Replies
    1. Glad it rang true to you, my friend!

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