October is shaping up to be a month of change, and all the changes so far have been necessary and good.
First, there’s been a change to the site. As you can see, Andy Montgomery has totally redesigned www.meredisciple.com and the new changes are fantastic. I’m very excited to take advantage of the new format and try out some new things in the future.
Second, I’m going to be changing how I blog. Self-disclosure doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’ve tended to blog on ideas or topics in a somewhat abstract way. I’ve done more teaching than sharing. That’s my preferred form, but I want to push myself to be a bit more candid and vulnerable in my writing, and not so polished and careful. I think that’s a dimension that I want to develop within every aspect of my life, because for different reasons I hesitate to really share the inner workings of my heart. Sometimes that’s because I assume people don’t care, but most of the time it’s because I’m concerned that if I do, I’ll lose credibility. Whatever my hesitations have been, I’ve definitely come to see the need for me to be more transparent and unguarded. This month I’ll be taking some new steps in this direction, some of which will express themselves through meredisciple.com.
Finally, Change conference. I took part in the Change conference this past weekend, and it was a very different experience going to a conference without students or leaders joining me. I was tasked with leading a focus group of about 30 people for 1.5 hours in the afternoon, but had the rest of the day open. I took in the main sessions (led by BlueTree and Jarret and Jeanne Stevens), and got the chance to connect with some other leaders, and was encouraged by how many people were taking the spiritual development of emerging leaders seriously within their churches and ministries.
A few things I learned from being involved with Change conference 2010:
1. There are a lot of gifted, passionate leaders out there whose work will never be seen or appreciated by the masses, but their influence on the lives of students is incalculable. I felt very humbled to hear their stories and found myself genuinely inspired by their love for Jesus and the courageous lengths they were going through to follow God’s call on their lives.
2. Regardless of the particular context, the concept of discipleship to Jesus is being taken more seriously by more and more youth pastors. It’s very encouraging to see and hear leaders who are thinking beyond “youth ministry,” and taking risks to try something–anything–that forces them and their students to engage Jesus in a more transformative way.
3. I really love my job. I can’t really pin down what sparked this realization for me, but on the drive home, with all the conversations and experiences of the day colliding in my mind, I remember thinking, “I just love what I do.” I know how rare a gift that is, and for some reason the Change conference gently reminded me how passionate I am about helping students embrace their place within God’s kingdom as agents of change and influence.
4. I really love my family. Being at Change also helped me realize just how much I increasingly dislike being away from my family. Being at Change was great, and being invited to lead a workshop was exciting, but I thought a lot about my girls throughout the day. My two daughters are at an age when they seem to change overnight, and I hate missing a moment with either of them. And I really feel like Heather and I are in a great space at the moment, and I really miss when I don’t get to spend focused time with her.