risk, fear, growth, and the good life

man alive, i’m feeling a bit exposed right now.

no, it’s not because a friend just pointed out that this shot of me speaking at the NYWC a few years back (with glorious long blonde hair!) is on the home page of the town & country website:

i’m feeling exposed because adam and i (the youth cartel, that is) are pushing and pushing into new things, and it pretty much all involves risk. i have struggled on and off over the almost-three years since i left YS with the reality of not having the security of a salary. but god has been good, and things have gone well. jeannie and i had one significant cash low-point last summer, but we made it through. now, i’m looking at all the amazing things happening in our little start-up, and i’m stoked. any outsider who hears what we’re doing responds glowingly about our growth, and about how well things are going.

but i’m afraid.

i don’t want to be afraid. i want to trust. i want to have faith (please god, give me faith).

i love speaking to groups of teenagers and youth workers, and that’s also been a great source of income for my family these past few years. but my speaking calendar is pretty empty — comparatively — at the moment.

i think the youth ministry coaching program is just about the most amazing thing i’ve ever been a part of, and there are SO many possible cohorts in the wind. but i can’t seem to get ‘em landed, and am faced with fears like: what if this has run it’s course? what if i can’t count on any more of these coming together?

i and 75 other middle school peeps had our socks blessed off by the middle school ministry campference last year, and i know this year’s event will be just as amazing. but the registrations aren’t where i’d like them to be. and i’m nervous. i’m afraid, dang it.

the summit is a big risk for a start-up. 18 amazing and diverse presenters, plus all sorts of other fantasticality. the way the program has shaped up has so far surpassed my hopes for this baby. and the buzz is great — everywhere, i hear youth workers talking about it. but they’re not signing up. at least they’re not signing up in the quantities that i would expect for this thing. we’re leveraged out on this, our baby, and adam and i are just scratching our heads about how to get the word out (this blog and our other social media tools have so much less reach than the old marketing budgets we worked with in my days at YS). so, i’m afraid on this one.

on all of these, there are interesting commonalities: the “content” or “program” is nails. i’m encouraged and hopeful and confident and excited. but on all of them, it’s that dang security thing again.

jeannie told me yesterday that our bank account is looking startlingly slim. last year at this time, i had a great fall of income that we rode into the new year. but this fall has — all across it — questions of “will this work or not?” and it’s pushing me back to the questions of faith and trust.

i know i rarely experience the good life when i’m coasting, when everything is easy. i know that i’m wired for risk, and that no risk quickly feels boring and mundane. i also know that i lean into god when i’m risking. so that’s all good. but i don’t like the fear part. i know it’s not helpful, and i know it’s not from god. but it’s so dang hard to shake!

adam and i have this funny little dance we do. i’m fairly optimistic; and he is — imho — sometimes beyond that, into idealistic. when he’s exercising his super-optimism or idealism, i often feel the need to provide counter-balance, and point out the risks and possibilities for failure and loss. and when he’s more down, or worried (as he was in our “staff meeting” yesterday), i counter-balance with all the reasons we have for hope. i sound like a highly functional co-dependent, huh?

anyhow. i was struggling. i am struggling. and i decided to write this out as a prayer, in a sense. naming it all gives me perspective.

minutes after adam left yesterday, we had a registration for The Summit come through; and it felt like a little “i’ve got you” nudge from god.

yes, god, give me faith. help me to trust. and please, give me this day my daily bread.

6 thoughts on “risk, fear, growth, and the good life”

  1. To say I understand is an understatement. As I read this email I’m sitting in my home office tempted to crunch numbers and figure out how we will make ends meet as the ministry we were serving with shut down and we are in the midst of starting a non profit. But I stopped because I know it doesn’t even out and God will have to supernaturally intervene. But yet I know that we are walking out a calling by God and He has not led us down a path to abandon us now. Today when I filled up my car watching the dollars creep up I caught myself praying…”God..this is YOUR gas and YOUR car for YOUR purposes. Please help stretch it and let me not get frustrated if things come up that cause me to have to drive here or there. Take this car where you want it, when you want it, and help me to remember everything I have and am is YOURS.” So I am Praying with you. Standing with you and trusting God for his provision and guidance along the way. Sometimes I catch myself wishing it was “easier”….but then I remind myself…..”this wouldn’t be an adventure if it came smoothly.”

  2. Sometimes, its like you take the words out of my mouth and post them. Keep on perserving bro. Im right there with ya.

  3. Marko, thanks for being so candid. I am with you. I almost feel like you were writing about my life and (current) experience. I’m asking all the same questions… praying the same prayers… I’m. with. you!

    I’m also stoked about what you two are endeavoring together. It’s been exciting to watch. But dude, be hopeful! I recall a phone call with you just a year and a half ago (?) and you were scratching your head a bit (as I recall) as to your future… at at the time you were dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Even though you would argue that you are just as uncertain today as you were then, man, look at what God has done in the past year and a half!

    If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself in the last couple years its that I sometimes have a real vision problem. I don’t see clearly sometimes ALL the things that God is up to within (and through) myself. I can see clearly enough to make out all the progress I see in yours though! Be hopeful. :) God has sustained you and you’ve risen to new heights brother. Praying for (and expecting!) with you!

    Your friend,
    –@terracecrawford

  4. Marko, thanks for being so candid. I am with you. I almost feel like you were writing about my life and (current) experience. I’m asking all the same questions… praying the same prayers… I’m. with. you!

    I’m also stoked about what you two are endeavoring together. It’s been exciting to watch. But dude, be hopeful! I recall a phone call with you just a year and a half ago (?) and you were scratching your head a bit (as I recall) as to your future… at at the time you were dealing with a lot of uncertainty. Even though you would argue that you are just as uncertain today as you were then, man, look at what God has done in the past year and a half!

    If there is one thing I’ve learned about myself in the last couple years its that I sometimes have a real vision problem. I don’t see clearly sometimes ALL the things that God is up to within (and through) myself. I can see clearly enough to make out all the progress I see in yours though! Be hopeful. :) God has sustained you and you’ve risen to new heights brother. Praying for (and expecting!) with you!

    ((… and to the dude with the long, blonde locks in the photo above… i met you for the first time THAT day. and since then you’ve become a friend and are now a part of my story! this guy is grateful for you. ))

    Your friend,
    –@terracecrawford

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