Tag Archives: spiritual growth

transformation

i preached at my church a few weeks ago on the topic of transformation. here’s my outline:

Jesus is actively working to bring about restoration to everything broken and tainted – all of creation.

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

Why don’t we experience constant growth? We block the process.

Tweaking is not Transformation

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2)

What holds us back?

  1. Seductions
  2. Lack of understanding and practice when it comes to Spiritual Discernment
  3. Internal Voices of Resistance
  • Voice of Judgment (“Transformation isn’t necessary”)
  • Resource needed: an Open Mind
    And [Jesus] said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)

  • Voice of Cynicism (“Transformation isn’t possible”)
  • Resource needed: an Open Heart
    Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

  • Voice of Fear (“Transformation would mean I’d lose something”)
  • Resource needed: an Open Will
    So do not fear, for I am with you (Isaiah 41:9-10a)

So, what should we do to experience transformation?

  1. It’s all about posture. Position yourself invitationally for transformation.
  2. Learn to Discern.
  3. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. (Romans 12:1)

  4. Exercise Curiosity toward yourself. What are your Voices of Resistance? What’s their “positive intent”?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:17-18)

marko at 75and here’s audio. but, for some reason, it starts about 5 minutes or so into the sermon. i began by showing this doctored photo of myself at 75, and talked about how, since i’ve recently turned 50, i’ve been thinking a bit more about my next 25 years (assuming i have them). i talked about how one of the worst things i could imagine would be to be the same person at 75 as i am today. then i started talking about how my parents have been such a great example to me in this area, and in the midst of that description, the audio picks up:


(or, you can click through here if you’d rather download it)

patience and youth ministry

recently, i was one of three respondents to a question on Slant33.com. kara powell and brooklyn lindsey wrote absolutely brilliant (and very different) responses to the question — i’d encourage you to click through and read their posts.

here’s the question, and my response:

Patience is difficult for youth workers. What do you find just unavoidably takes time?

Confession: I wrote this question. And it reveals a bit of my age-bias, I think. I’m turning 49 the week I’m writing this, and have passed the 30-year mark in youth ministry. In other words: I’m old.

And, while I tend to normally be a bit averse to age group stereotypes (I sure don’t want to be stereotyped with other 49-year olds!), I think there’s an age generalization I can fairly make as a precursor to responding to this question.

Older youth workers don’t (usually) struggle with patience. There’s mostly only one reason for this: even though many of us (myself included) were once quite impatient, we couldn’t still be in youth ministry if we didn’t pick a bit of it up along the journey. In other words, youth workers who stay impatient usually move on to other ministries, ones that have a more reliable return on investment, a quicker feedback loop, and something to chalk up as “results” other than “well, no one intentionally farted during prayer tonight” (which, I think we can all agree, doesn’t play to well in your monthly report to your church board).

I’m showing my skirt here; you can already tell how I’m going to answer this question, right?

EVERYTHING in youth ministry unavoidably takes time.

Well, maybe that’s an overstatement. There are a few things that don’t have to take time:

  • Ruining your reputation
  • Destroying trust with a student
  • Making an enemy out of a parent

But most things in youth ministry – at least the really good things – take time and patience. Maybe that’s because God is maddenly patient. I mean, I’m really glad God is patient when it comes to my stuff, my sin, my brokenness, my growth. But if I’m honest, I sometimes wish God cared a bit more about speediness when it comes to transforming teenagers. Sure, there are the occasional overnight 180 change stories we pass around (why does it so often seem that evangelists have these as their own stories, and assume everyone else’s will/should be the same?).

But most change takes time. Most transformation – at least the good God-stuff – takes place as a journey of subtle shifts. Most passion develops gradually. Most insight isn’t acquired in a flash. Most commitment, while they may appear to happen all at once the last night of camp, are a long series of fits and starts that gradually settle into resolve and a deeper knowing.

No question about it: pretty much all the really, deeply good stuff of youth ministry requires patience, because God doesn’t care much about speed. One of my primary prayers for youth workers is “God, give us patience.” God, give me patience.