A few months ago, St. Stephen UMC (where I serve as Minister of Students & Social Media), made the decision to jump into the realm of international mission work. Words can’t even begin to describe how excited I am about this opportunity (which is part of the inspiration for starting a blog), but as the trip gets closer I am getting more and more nervous. There are several factors that play into these nerves: 1) In all transparency…I get homesick. Being out of the country with little to no contact with Libby (my wife) and our two daughters (Teaghyn – 20 months old – & Anistyn – 1 month old -) already makes me feel sick to my stomach. 2) This trip also adds so much stress to my job. This is a major endeavor on behalf of our faith community and huge financial challenge for myself and many of our youth families. I openly admit that I am not a mathematician, but I have definitely become a statistician as I stare at spreadsheets and budgets for what seems like hours on end. My only regret from college is not taking some business and marketing classes to help me in my ministry career. 3) We have nine youth going on this trip and their parents have entrusted their safety to me (as well as the other adults going). Needless to say though, being the only church staff member on the trip, I feel an extra sense of necessity to watch-over and protect each member of the team.
As the trip get closer though, one factor began to loom over me…I was going to have to pay a visit to the doctor. In all honesty, I hadn’t had a physical or been to a doctor for a routine appointment since my last visit to the pediatrician, which was literally nearly half a lifetime ago. As the day grew closer and closer, my dread of this appointment grew and grew. The reality was that I knew I was going to have to get some shots and due to my family history, there will also be a colonoscopy in my near future. Did I mention how much I didn’t want to go to the doctor? Well the day of the visit came and went, and I checked out okay. Moving further away from the day of the visit though, I’ve found myself asking one question: Am I really becoming a man? Sure, I’m married and the father of two, but even through the course of those events as life did change, I never felt any older. In my mind, I was still the same eighteen year old boy that walked out of the pediatricians office to head off to college. In the days now following my visit to the doctor for my first annual visit, I realized that somewhere in the passage of time, I have become a man.
Having time to really think about this experience and yes, even time to decompress from the anxiety I felt as the appointment approached (an anxiety that still remains in expectation of a colonoscopy), I began thinking about my family. About Libby and our two beautiful baby girls. Somehow, my brain made the connection to that passage in 1 Corinthians…maybe you know the one: “Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. We know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things” (1 Corinthians 13: 7-11) So many of us remember this passage for no other reason than it was used somewhere in our wedding ceremonies. Well my brain made the jump to this passage and all that I could think about was Libby and the girls.
Somewhere in the past, “…I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things.” Even though I dreaded that doctors visit more than words can describe, I put away that childish worry because it’s up to me and me alone to take care of myself so that I can stick around to take care of my girls, to teach them that the Atlanta Braves are the best baseball team in the world, the Clemson Tigers are a close second to the Virginia Cavaliers, and that the love I have for their mother is the most important thing in my life next to the love of Jesus Christ.
I’m excited that you’ve taken the time to read these crazy thoughts of a United Methodist Youth Pastor. I hope that you will continue to follow me on this journey that we call life and ministry!