97,98, 99…

    January 8, 2006 to April 18, 2006 is 100 days.  I’ve been employed by FBC for 100 days.  Student Minister has been my title for 100 days.  It seems like some reflection is in order, so here are some thoughts.
    I love teaching, first and foremost.  That was always one of my favorite things to do around Zephyr, and now I get to teach twice a week.  I feel like I’ve honed my teaching and dramatically improved over the past 100 days.  There have been a few lessons that really felt like homeruns.
    I can’t remember the last time that I have studied and read and reflected as much as the past 100 days.  I have torn through a few books and started other ones, and actually spent time learning.  I have tried to take time out each day to read a book / magazine / blog / commentary / something.
    The problem with all this reading is that my head has been spinning for 100 days.  For instance, I’m reading "Your First Two Years in Youth Ministry" and "7 Practices of Effective Ministry." One book is telling me to think of things like a marathon and not get bogged down in trying to remake a youth ministry, while the other is encouraging a complete paradigm shift and critically analyzing your current processes.  They are both right, but which one is more right?
    Each of the last 100 days has brought on a challenge.  Most days, and I know this sounds terrible, but I am not sure what I need to get done that day.  I am reluctant to do things.  I hesitate.  I feel like I need to get other opinions.  I don’t make decisions often enough.  I’m scared I’m going to screw up.  I really do want to work hard and do excellent things, but a lot of days I waste away doing busy work like writing PO’s and reading blogs and messing around on the internet.
    I haven’t felt like I’m qualified to do the job I’m doing.  I’m qualified education-wise, but as far as practically, I have a long road ahead of me.  I had this idea of the issues I would have to deal with at my "first church."  They were things like how am I going to make this group of 10 get to a group of 20, where will we go to camp, what are we going to do to make our youth room cooler, etc.  I figured I’d have silly stuff to deal with.  But Athens has given me "grown-up" problems.  How do I get adults invovled?  What is a student’s first impression when they come for an event?  How do I get the students to be an "inviting" group?  What am I going to do with Sunday School / Kidthink next year?
    I’ve also had to deal with grown-up problems at home like paying utilities and rent, and helping come up with a budget, and buying less clothes and movies and CD’s.  The house is warmer right now than I want it to be, but I’m paying for the electricity, so I’ll take my shirt off instead of turning down the AC.
    Side note: My golf game has gotten a ton better.  I can now beat any toddler you throw at me.
    Mostly, the last 100 days have been a roller-coaster ride.  One day will be exciting and encouraging, the next day depressing.  I’ll think a bible study is going to be terrible, then it turns out  great, and vice versa.  Some days I love being here and wouldn’t trade it for the world, and some days I wish I was back in a comfortable life at Zephyr.  The issue is a spiritual one for me.  Each day I have to come back to the fact that even though I think I’m doing a sub-par job and there are many other people better for my position, God chose me to be here.  That’s not just a feeling I have, 500 and something people confirmed it, along with a stout search-committee and a staff that was praying for God to provide.
    My objective for the next 100 days is to continue learning and trying and branching out.  We’ll see how it goes.



1 Response so far »

  1. 1

    Toni Clay said,

    I’m impressed by the way you revealed yourself, Chris Stapper. The word authentic comes to mind. Being authentic isn’t an easy thing, particularly when it’s a near given there are people who will find fault. It’s likely of no comfort, but true nonetheless, to say the issues with which you now grapple — particularly as they manifest themselves spiritually — will be fairly constant throughout your life. What it comes down to, I think, is having a Steadfast Spirit. God (not to mention life in general) is contantly putting us outside our comfort zone. How do we respond in those times? I know I all too often draw away from Him, rather than closer, until finally I see no alternative but to beg for help. All those stories about the Israelites returning to God then falling away again to worship idols — over and over, back and forth. Were they crazy, I ask. And yet, I do it. Most of us do it.
    For the next 100 days, don’t worry so much about what paradigm to follow. Focus on being steadfast and see if things don’t fall into place … I’ll try to take my own advise.

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