Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Because Some Days You Can See It

Today is one of those days--one of those days when it seems worth it all.

I work in one of those jobs that is more about planting seeds than bringing in the harvest. It's not always obvious that you're accomplishing anything. Somedays its invisible. It's just grading papers and going to meetings and hearing yourself talk.

But today Wayne Beason came by my office. He's just accepted a job to work with InterVarsity as a campus minister in Chicago. He gave me his spiel (he has to raise support), and it was good. He's taken some of what he's gotten in our new degree in missional leadership and made it sing. He sees the differences. He's choosing some things and not others. He's exercising critical judgment in impressive ways--ways that will definitely make a difference.

I put Wayne in contact with Mark Willis, a young, gifted, imaginative church planter in Chicago. And I thought about how many of those kinds of guys I know. The people who are willing to venture onto ministry frontiers, like my new monastic friends Ryan Woods and the Allelon house (featuring my son, Josh). Or a guy like Travis Stanley who is a community organizer in New Orleans. Or a woman like Cheryl Russell who along with her husband Tim is making courageous decisions about her life in ministry to the city. Or a woman like Jen Christy who is directing student ministries at Pepperdine University.

After Wayne left my office, I read a facebook notification from a group, Half the Church, that is taking concrete steps toward addressing gender issues in Churches of Christ. I certainly don't think of Stephen Johnson, one of the leaders of this group, as a student of mine because he's always been a peer and has surpassed me in so many ways (though I did have the privilege of chairing his DMin thesis). He is, however, working with former students like Laura Clark and Olivia Hodges. I can't tell you how proud I am of what they're doing and how hopeful I am that their efforts will make a difference.

So, I've spent the better part of the day giving thanks for all the outstanding young church leaders I know because of the fact that I've been fortunate enough to hang out at places like ACU and Rochester College--guys like Ben Ries and Aaron Metcalf, Jarrod Robinson and Collin Packer, Josh Ross and Richard Maddeaux, to name but a few. I am having a thankful day.

I should be quick to point out (am I too late?) that I'm not taking credit for who they are and what directions they've taken. Many of them are doing things I don't have the first idea about. And they have certainly had many outstanding teachers and significant influences. With some of these I've mentioned, I have had only passing interaction. But I've been a part of this enterprise--the seed planting enterprise--this business of calling them, along with many other seed planters, to something bigger than themselves. And they have delighted me. They are the dirt under my fingernails (in the best possible sense), the proof that I have real dealings with the world. And I know that the best I've given some of them is to not get in their way. And maybe for others to say what little I know with conviction. But they have passed across my life like fireworks. And so today, I'm glad that I get to do what I do.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thoughtfulness of the post, and for including my name in the list of people who make you feel good about the way you've spent your life. I've certainly been blessed by having been your student. - Jarrod

Cheryl Russell said...

Really thankful for you and your family as well. I would say you are a seed planter and a seed waterer. Thank you for using your powers for good. Looking forward to January!

Collin Packer said...

You've given me a lens to look at my work differently today. Thanks for the blessings you put in my life!

Anonymous said...

Dude, thanks and all that, but you really should have listed me before Ben Ries. a) it's alphabetical, b) you've known me longer, c) I'm 10 times the minister that guy is, d) I watched your son when he was young and bought him donuts. e) my word verification is chess and I beat Ben at it ALL the time.

And, truly, thanks. You've taught me more than you will ever know.


Mark Love said...


You read the second version. In the first you were listed ahead of Ries for all the reasons you cite. But he reminded me that we were actually on staff together for like three days and that he stayed the night in the hospital the night Josh had his arm operated on and that he has incriminating pictures of me (some so-called Republican activism stuff for which my parents would disown me, I know you have other kinds of pictures). Actually, in the first version Ries wasn't listed at all, being replaced by the guy who does pro bono spiritual direction. Forget the guys name.

You know doubt have suffered under my influence longer than anyone on the list, and for that you should get the most credit.

Ben Ries said...

I find myself running the gamut in the pathos of emotions.

Mark Love said...

Ben, Ben. Just know that when the image of dirt under my fingernails came to mind, I was thinking of you. Run that through the gamut.