Thomas Merton’s Transparent Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.  I do not see the road ahead of me.  I cannot know for certain where it will end.  Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.  But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.  And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing.  

I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.  Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.  I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and will never leave me to face my perils alone.  
-Thomas Merton


I am 36. My mom called me out. She was right.

Miss Ellie

Miss Ellie

This past weekend I had the great opportunity to speak with students and then parents at the church that raised me. While speaking to the parents on Sticky Faith and more, I said something about one of my daughters that didn’t sit well with my mother. Yes, my mother and father were in attendance, supporting me from the back. As I was showing pictures of my family I referred to my 3-year-old as “crazy.” When I got back to my parents house that night my mother said, “hey mister, enough with crazy stuff when talking about Ellie. That is not who she is and you don’t want her believing something that isn’t true.”  Point taken. End of sermon. My mom was so right.

Raising our 3-year-old has been difficult. She is so much like me it hurts, really.
In many ways she is a typical threenager ( a term I just learned!).

My mom caused me to reflect for a second. I realized that I have spent 14 years seeing the hopeful and positive side of many teenagers yet I was struggling with seeing the positive side of my own child. My wife reminded me of a woman who works in our children’s ministry who reports great things about our daughter to her almost every time they see each other. Unfortunately our response has been, “Really? You mean she didn’t act like a honey badger?” Are you sure?

In further reflection of my own story, I was known in high school and college for being crazy. I would do anything for attention. I can clearly remember thinking how exhausting it was to live up to my crazy reputation. It wasn’t me. It was just a behavior that got a response. 

For seven years I allowed a title given by others to define my actions. My mom was right. I need to stop calling my daughter crazy. I want her to find out who she is and not who the world thinks she is.

Lesson learned,
Thanks Momz.


Reverse Youth Ministry: A Story of Another Nate

In the past few years I have been awakened to the fact that youth ministry is often consumed with discipling young people while forgetting that students disciple adults as well. I don’t believe for a second that Timothy was the only benefactor in the relationship he had with the Apostle Paul. Mentoriship and discipleship are two-streets, if not 6 lane highways.

One of many young people who have blessed me is this bearded wonder named Nate Zuercher. 10015126_848089128550855_32580961_oI met Nate when he was headed into high school. He was a cool kid who loved music, loved people yet lacked confidence in many ways. Over the years I got to watch this unique guy find his voice in terms of faith, relationships and music. There was a season where his singing and guitar playing were not yet completely honed, but Nate went for yet. He just kept putting himself out there and honing his craft while making all sorts of friends along the way. Nate’s confidence was and is inspiring to me.

Today Nate is a co-founder and banjo player in the band Judah and the Lion.  He is living his dream and continuing to learn and grow as he goes. Nate might value relationships more than any other person I have ever met. He genuinely 1000640_518148531624852_1565079761_n copycares about people in a rich and deep way. So I was and was not surprised when I found out last week that Nate tattooed the names of people who have loved him and who he loves on his arm. He loves community so much he made it permanent on his arms. While I was shocked and honored, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to mess with the dude. I told him he spelled my name wrong causing a bit of panic.

Thankful to this guy and many other “teenagers” over the years who have shown me the love of God.



A Thought: How do YOU interact with your children differently?

I want my middle school daughter to tell a good story.
I want my high school daughter to live a good story.
I want my college daughter to question the story.

Thought from Steve Argue of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids.

Would love to know your response. 


2 Volunteer Types: Which One Are You?

shutterstock_108700223Understanding the gifts, schedules, faith and passions of your volunteers can be immensely difficult, yet the most fruitful leadership move you can make. I will attempt in this post to describe several effective volunteer types that I have witnessed over the years.

Before you read my “types”, please know there is a  danger to finding out whether or not you are an ENFP or a ISTJ or an Otter or your strength is Woo, is that you can put yourself in a box. These tests and what I am writing below can help us understand one another, but they don’t reveal who you really are. Jesus does that. I know, Sunday School answer, yet theologically correct. Moving forward…

My friend Mark DeVries sat with my team one day and really helped me understand an area where I was stuck. I can’t remember the exact terms, but he said most volunteers are either TASKERS or PARTNERS (definitions below). He observed that I was forcing some taskers to be partners and I was unaware that some partners simply wanted to do a task. Once I shuffled some people around, I began to see sprouts of new life in several volunteers.

1. The Tasker- this person is often undervalued, but oh are they crucial to a healthy team. This is the volunteer who is more than willing to give rides, plan a party, make 10 lasagnas, decorate a room, collect 15 tents, find the best deal on t-shirts or register students at an event. A tasker thinks they are doing ministry, because they are. They may have limited time or do not feel gifted to lead a small group. Either way, if they get energy through getting things done…turn ‘em loose. Keep a list of taskers in your office so you always know there is help nearby.

       A. The Asker Tasker- this is the first of 2 subspecies of tasker. These volunteers will always shoot you a message to see how they can help. If you don’t give them a task, they will most likely quit asking.
       B. The Tell Me Tasker- If someone says “tell me what to do and I will do it”, then take them at the word. They will not ask or pester or remind. The Tell Me Tasker is a minuteman or minutewoman who is waiting for orders and is ready to serve.

2. The Partner- this volunteer does not care more about ministry than the tasker, they just care differently. If your ministry is struggling in some way, the partner is already aware. They care about the entire ministry and want to see it be as fruitful as you do. The partner wants to be included in conversations about the vision and direction of the ministry. They want to know what is being taught, what students are not longer coming and most partners want to support the youth pastor as much as possible. A youth pastor must stay in frequent contact with someone who sees themselves as a partner so that they always stay in the know. As you identify your partner volunteers, decide whether or not you have not only given them the car but the keys in terms of serving and responsibility. Don’t micromanage a partner, inspire and inform them.

So who are you or who do you have on your team? Hopefully this post will serve as a good discussion starter as volunteers process the way they or serve or as youth pastors seek to understand their teams.

A. Later this week I will describe even more volunteer types
B. Here is another post on volunteers