I can remember being a junior in high school when our youth pastor resigned. The youth ministry went into an interim period of volunteer leadership and one of these leaders asked me if I would teach the lesson for an upcoming week. I had no training and I really didn’t know what I was doing, but I was excited and went with my best instincts.
The lesson, all things considered, went great, and I can remember having this electric sense of fulfillment. I knew on some level, I was tapping into something I was made to do. That “thing” I thought I had identified was the ability to use words to make a difference. As I prepared for college, I thought I would use this desire to become a lawyer or a politician. Only a year later would I feel a sense — a “calling” — to head into the ministry.
Something that has never wavered for me since those days is the experience of using words to positively impact people. I love speaking, teaching, preaching, and writing; if it uses words, I have a passion for doing it well. The rest of the journey is one of evolving development. I suppose my awareness of my passion has been a combination of intuition and discovery. On the one hand, nobody ever had to help me discover my love for speaking. On the other hand, I continue to learn so much through each season of my life, refining how that love is played out in a way that is more and more fulfilling for me, and more and more beneficial for others.
My undergrad studies were very helpful. They gave me tools to pursue this passion more effectively. They helped me refine what I thought I would be doing with this passion and think “bigger” than I thought I should. Each ministry position I’ve held has offered an experience to sharpen a different part of me, and it greatly impacts the way I make a
difference in the world. My early ministries helped me figure out the content of my personal “message,” my theology, my body of work, my paradigm. How could I use my gifts and my talents to make the most positive difference in the world?
Eventually this led me into campus ministry, a place where I could shape upcoming leaders at a critical point in their development. I could literally be about changing the world and influencing so many through the development of others. I could still partner with churches and be asked to contribute in many different ways. I can remember going through a unique training called Pathmaker that helped give very specific language to those gifts and experiences, but also showed me how my personality and temperament could be maximized.
I now serve as the President of Impact Campus Ministries (www.impacttheu.com) and have created a podcast that reaches tens of thousands of people (www.BEMAdiscipleship.com). I have never felt more “in my wheelhouse,” but I also assume I will continue to grow and learn and develop.
My guess is that most people have an intuitive sense of who they are (maybe some are more aware of this than others), but we all need help in figuring out what this looks like. Sometimes we need others to help us see and articulate exactly what those unique gifts are. Sometimes it’s the ability to learn and experiment in an environment built for our success and development. No matter who we are and where we are at, we need the help of others to become the best versions of ourselves.
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