February 1, 2008

Career Day

I got to speak at “Career Day” at one of the local high schools today. It turned out to be quite the providential time.

My career was advertised as “clergy”, and described as “the taking care of spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of people who attend a church”. The description was painfully boring.

There were four, 30 minute sessions, where I had the opportunity to share with students. The first and third sessions, only 1 student appeared. But the second and fourth sessions were fantastic, incredible.

Just as I was getting ready to start the second session to a room of 6, a handful of young, black men sat on the back row. The teacher (who was supposed to help with crowd-control) was worried that they were there to cause a scene, to make fun of the "clergy".

First, I handed out food and free things, like bookmarks and pens and ice scrapers. That loosened everyone up. I told them a little about me and my family and my bike team. Then, I asked them for definitions and impressions of who clergy are and what they do. I then told them that I can only speak for myself, but here’s what I do:

"Jesus has invited all people to join in the Great Story of God. When we join in God’s Story, we lose our lives in light of a greater purpose—one full of hope, joy, laughter, love, and life itself.

This year, a new president will be elected, and, unlike in other countries, daily life in the United States will not dramatically change. Let me substitute the word “clergy” for “one who follows Jesus". As a follower of Jesus, I have been called to live my life as if Jesus were in my shoes.

As a follower of Jesus, I am a songwriter, writing and singing and telling stories that point to God’s Great Story—one of simplicity not consumption, one of purity not hedonism, one of peace not violence.

As a follower of Jesus, I am a worship leader, inviting people to sing praises to God, taking our eyes off of ourselves, our failures, successes, circumstance and onto the One who alone is worthy of our worship and devotion.

As a follower of Jesus, I am a youth minister, because I believe that teenagers are daring and risky enough to dream big dreams that will change the world. I believe that teens are strong enough to hold on to hope and press on, persevering through difficult situations.

My calling as a follower of Jesus has been shaped by Jesus’ inaugural address:

“God’s Spirit is on me, he’s chosen me to preach the Story of God’s good news to the poor, he’s sent me out to proclaim freedom for prisoners and restoring sight to the blind, he’s sent me to set the abused and enslaved free and declare, ‘This is God’s year to act!”

Today is February 1. In 1865, President Lincoln signed the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery in the United States. There are more slaves today than there were in the 400 years of the African slave trade.”

From then on, a fantastic discussion took place about how we join God’s Story and live like Jesus when we help free slaves. We talked about how our consumerist tendencies actually promote oppression. We talked about how our desires for revenge and destruction do not bring peace.

At the end, I said, “Today is National Freedom Day. God has set us free from our past, so we can go help others who are slaves today.”

And I now have 5 new friends. It was a great time. I can't wait for next year.

Patriots 35, Giants 21.


W. David Winner said...

I loved it! Great way to summarize who a pastor is while capturing God's heart for the world.

I also like your football prediction at the end. Very good.

I agree, but I think the patriots will win by 4.

Sally R said...

I'm glad it got better after the first session. I thougholy enjoyed spending that session with you though. Our school needs to hear messges like what you teach. Keep up the good work :-)

Stacey said...

Ethan, great life experience you shared!