Alicia and I get hooked on television shows (Duck Dynasty, Hoarders, Clean House) and thanks to Netflix we have the ability to watch shows that we missed the boat on. Even thought we missed out on the whole series of Lost, we were still able to watch it online. One show that I often watch on my days off is Monk. The show is about a former detective with debilitating OCD tendencies. Most of us like order, to some extent, but this guy is bad. Monk brings his own sheets to a hotel, a suitcase full of sierra springs bottled water, and the list goes on and on.
The show follows Monk as he’s contracted out on cases to help the police solve problems that they never would be able to on their own. The thing about Monk, is he notices things that no normal person would notice and that is exactly what makes him the best. Monk has an attention to detail that is unparalleled. Monk will notice one thing out of place, that in turn helps to solve the crime and put the bad man behind bars.
I would love to sit and chat television with you all day, but there is a point that I want to make. The reason that Monk is able to solve the crime is because he makes sure that every detail is attended to and I think we could use a little more of that in youth ministry. If you are anything like me, I get completely frustrated with unprofessional youth pastors who do a half-effort job. The thing is, these youth pastors give every professional youth pastor out there a bad name. Even if I work hard to be as professional as possible, people will always have their preconceived notions of what a youth pastor is.
I would ask that all of you who are involved in youth ministry would strive to a level of professionalism that would change the view of youth pastors in ministry. We all wonder why people ask when we are going to grow up and be a “real” pastor and the reason is, because people don’t view youth pastors as professionals. By taking a cue from Monk, I would ask you to pay attention to detail. Take the first step toward changing the church world’s perspective of the professional, detail oriented, youth pastor.
Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
There is just something about watching the Olympics. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I love watching freakish athletes do things that us normal people can’t do. I love watching Usain Bolt break world records every time he takes the track. I love watching Michael Phelps take home 18 gold medals in a sport that I only get excited about every four years.
I love watching the Olympics for the same reason that I love watching the NBA or NFL more than college sports (I know this may be a blasphemous statement to many of you). The reason I love watching professional sports is because I love watching people who have dedicated their lives to be amazing at something to a level that I know I could never be. The thing is, I could train for years upon years and I’m never going to be able to run anywhere close to Usain Bolt speeds. I am never going to be able to dunk a basketball, especially not “Like Mike.”
The thing about sports is that we all find players and teams and we place a lot of stake in how our team does. For me, the player that I watched and adored we Reggie White. He was a defensive end for the Green Bay Packers and he was also known as “The Minister of defense.” I loved Reggie because he was a believer who was a monster on the football field. We watch these players and think I could never do that and often times we look at the people in scripture the very same way.
The thing is, we look at the apostle Paul and say, “Man I could never suffer like that guy.” We look at Moses and say, “I could never lead people like he did.” We look at the disciples and say, “Those guys were so spiritual and look how they followed Jesus.” However, we forget the fact that all of these guys were normal people who had major flaws, and God chose to use them. Paul was a murderer and called himself the chief of sinner. Moses was terrified to speak and God had to send him someone to be his “voice.” I won’t even go into all of the disciples’ flaws, and this is a very small sampling of scripture as a whole.
The thing that I’m trying to get at is while we all sit absorbed in the Olympics and we cheer on our country, our walk with the Lord is not just a sit and watch faith. Our walk with the Lord is one where every person competes. I may never be the next apostle Paul. I may not be the next Mark Driscoll, Francis Chan, or Tim Keller. However, God has a very specific plan for me and what he wants for me to accomplish.
The Olympics are great and I am looking forward to the winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014. However, I encourage you to not just sit on the side as people do great things for the cause of Christ. I want you to get out there and compete and I want you to push your students to get our there and compete. There is much too much riding on this race for us to run it half heartedly.