When the Center of Somewhere Feels Like the Middle of Nowhere

garmin_25651GPS.  Global Positioning System.  You would think from that vantage point, the dumb thing might actually understand where I REALLY am!

Sometimes the navigation system goes awry -and though you may not truly be ‘in the middle of nowhere’, you certainly do not recognize the middle of wherever it is you are.

More than once, my friend Gert (complete with Australian accent and vernacular) has led me to a place that was wholly unfamiliar.  Oh, sure, there were gas stations aplenty and paved streets (sorta)….but for me, it still felt like the middle of nowhere.  Desolate.  Disorienting.  Frustrating.  Frightening.

Navigating a faith journey sometimes feels like I’m on a trip with Gert.  I pull out of the driveway with complete and utter confidence.  I blindly follow the robotic ‘recalculating’ without question.  And yet, I find myself in at the center of somewhere that feels like the middle of nowhere.  I can see landmarks – proofs that I am going as I need to go.  But man, does it feel desolate sometimes…like the middle of nowhere…and no amount of recalculating will ever take me to the intended destination.

And, admittedly, I find myself doing what all frustrated drivers do….blaming the GPS.  Cursing her.  Wanting to rip her off my dash and pummel her droning voice into a million little technologically charged pieces.  Shut.Her.Up.  But I know if I do that, a) I will never find my way to the right location, and b) I have squandered my investment.

So I continue to make the instructed turns – “in point three miles, turn left” – and trust that, from a much broader perspective than the one I have behind the wheel, Someone knows where I’m going.

A Youth Ministry Call or a Youth Ministry Job?

living-a-life-worthy-of-the-calling-650x487Would you sacrifice your calling for a job?

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you’ve been unemployed and virtually out of local church youth ministry for two years or so.  You’ve had a few opportunities to speak at camps and retreats, lead a Sunday school class here or there….but mostly, you’re out.

And then let’s just assume that you have kids rounding the bend of their senior year…or various and sundry other high school ‘stages of life.’  And school’s about to start.  And your kids have plenty of leadership positions to accompany their good grades and lifelong friendships to the prom.

And then, again all theoretically, you’ve had churches offering you jobs throughout this two-year process – good churches – with good people – and good pastors.

It can be easy to manufacture a calling where one does not exist.  It can be convenient to explain to God what you can make this one work.  It can be simple (and understandable) to just take the next one that comes along.  But it’s anathema to your calling.

Now let’s get real.

It can be easy to sacrifice your calling for a job….even a job in the field of your calling.  There are some good reasons to hold out for the Right place….

1.  People quit jobs when jobs get difficult.  Have you ever followed the saga of a teenager embarking on a McDonald’s mission?  You need to be fully committed to stay.  Calling helps you do that.  When you’re called, you endure.  The folks you’re heading toward need you to be called.

2. People give more passion to callings.  Sometimes jobs can feel mundane, boring, flat.  But callings make those same feelings bearable.  You need you to be called.

3.  No paycheck can stabilize your household, regardless of its origin.  When you pick a job over a calling, you sacrifice…and not in an admirable way.  And even though your family may enjoy the benefits of your regular income, they lose out in other ways.  Your wife and kids need you to be called.

4.  Usually the Holy Spirit is inextricably entwined in your calling.  When ministry becomes something that can be done without the indescribable, unexplainable touch of God, it’s just become a job.  Jesus needs you to be called.

Wait for what’s right.  Whatever sacrifices you are making in the meantime are hard…and good.  Be called…because ministry has to be more than your job.