“More is taught from your couch than from your pulpit”
These are the words the Holy Spirit surprised me with this past summer. I was preparing a message on spiritual fathering for an upcoming Sunday message to our church family. I had recently undertook a new discipling opportunity, that I will share with you more about in the future, and now had the joy of sharing about that with the church. As I was writing this message I became more and more aware of how my perspective on discipleship had changed over the years.
When I came to Christ at a Rock the Nations conference my freshman year of high school, it was through a radical encounter. Church and thus Christianity had become a boring stale routine that had little impact on the way I lived my life previously to that conference. When my mother signed me up to go, I was furious, because I would have much rather been out with my friends, then at a Christian youth conference. However, while I was there God broke in with an encounter that changed me and shook me to the core. I loved Jesus with all of my heart upon my return home, but couldn’t stand the way that I felt the church had allowed me to be lulled to sleep in its pews for years. I became a radical, seeking to inspire others to encounter the purpose and passion I had now found. I was drawn and still am by the intensity of my favorite speakers, prophetic movements, and worship times. I sought to model my own ministry after what I was drawn to in so many others. Intensity.
After my four years at a Christian college studying youth ministry, and my internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, I returned to my home church to take on my new role as a youth pastor. I was eager to preach and lead a movement of young people in this church. I had many opportunities to preach, speak, and lead the youth and various events, and I thought that my intensity, drive, and passion through preaching would make all the difference in the world, but I was wrong. It was actually the slow burn of real honest relationships that had the greatest impact in the lives of others. Only I didn’t catch that in my early years, but I now know it to be true.
As I look back, I can see that all of those times going out for coffee, grabbing a bite to eat, and even more so, playing video games, watching a movie,and dunking them in the pool often had more impact than the messages I preached by themselves. I had diminished those “fun” things as less important in my early years. I never wanted to lead a youth group that just played games and ate pizza when there is so much on the line in the world today. I wanted to see young people set ablaze to fast and pray not just feast and play, like one of my spiritual role models Lou Engle once said. But, what so many in this generation need, and I had to come to understand, is how to live it in the day to day.
In talking with many preachers kids, you will find again and again, that their favorite most inspiring memories with their parents, did not happen from a pulpit when they were preaching but rather when their parents were spending quality time with them, rolling around in the leaves, watching a movie, playing a game, having that important life giving conversation or taking that vacation together. It was with this thought that the Lord was challenging me most, when He hit me with the “more is taught from your couch than from your pulpit” line. The way the leader lives their life at home is what gives many of these pastor’s kids their take on the kingdom, and The Gospel good or bad. The difference between a father and a teacher at least in part, is the time and access the child has with you. The teacher dresses up, prepares and gives their lesson and then steps away. The Father, on the other hand gives unprecedented access to his children and teaches both when he means to and when he doesn’t. It is the Father though who has the ability to impact the most.
For a long time my eyes were set on building a ministry but now they are set on building a family. The Lord was inviting me to invite students into my life in a whole new way. It has lead to students sitting on my couch, laughing, crying, playing video games and watching the stupidest movies around. It has led to deep times of intercession, worship, and then some crazy pranks. I have learned to, on the drop of a dime, turn off a hilarious movie to lay hands on someone and pray for them in my living room. My life finds meaning the more I let others into it, and I believe their lives do too.
Here is your challenge for the week:
If you are a parent, my challenge is for you to pray and consider what values you are passing on to your family in your time at home. Take this week to write down three instilled values you would like your kids to leave your house with.
If you are single, like I am, my challenge for you is not to step out, but to invite at least one person into your home this week. Whether you are cooking dinner or watching a movie take some time to build some bonds, and by all means always be ready to minister in the midst.
Your for the Journey,