Category Archives: Authenticity

Fork in the Road (A Guest Post)

“Sometimes it’s embarrassing to talk to You, to hold a conversation with the only one who sees right through this version of myself I try to hide behind” -Relient K

Yes, I DID just brilliantly quote Relient K. Despite their [for some – unpreferred] punk rock tones the lyrics of certain Relient K songs are extremely deep and can speak to my Christian walk. This particular song “I Am Understood” perfectly depicts a 19 year old version of myself. Maybe you remember a time in your life where you met “the fork in the road” as a young person. Well, I hit mine at age nineteen. I needed to make a very specific decision that I knew would determine what kind of character I would have for the rest of my life. You see… God had called me to a very full life; a life that I would have to dedicate my whole self completely to His service. I have known since I was nine years old that God has called me to full time vocational ministry. However, this dream became a little tainted when I became a teenager. I quickly realized how difficult ministry life would be for myself and my future family (husband and children). So, I planned on making a deal with God. I created a few “terms” that were my conditions for accepting the job for full time ministry! I know… I was blindly arrogant and presumptuous because I was operating out of fear. And yet, God saw right through me and He “let me know I was understood”.

I am a fourth generation pastor’s kid. My parents are exceptional Pastors and always tried their best in keeping my childhood experience as it rightfully should be. Being a PK [Pastor’s Kid] is something I am very proud of. However, that also means I saw a side of ministry that most young people do not ever experience. I was exposed to the sacrificial and emotionally draining effects of ministry life. Through some of my PK friends and their families I saw the darkness of ministry failure. I saw so much anger and hurt from other wounded and failed pastors and missionaries. I knew the scary statistics for Pastor’s families. I realized as a young teen that my parent’s had somehow beaten the odds. Would I be so fortunate to replicate their success in my own adult life someday? I was so fearful to release my “terms” because I did not want my future family to struggle financially or even relationally. You’ll laugh when you hear that one of my terms was “I will NOT marry a Pastor under any circumstance”. I wanted to marry someone with a so called “normal” job that could provide a steady source of income who’s schedule was reliably 9am – 5pm. That way I could continue to do ministry myself and not have to worry about making money to provide for a family. I had to be [what I thought was] realistic about life! I thought if I married a Pastor then my children would eventually miss out on something due to our busy ministry schedule. So, I tried living my life on my precious terms. This proved more difficult than I anticipated! I was trying to do ministry uninhibited, but my “terms” kept on getting in the way! I desired to be captivated by Christ and wanted to grow my relationship with Him more and more, but this required full obedience to Him.

Ultimately, I was faced with that proverbial “fork in road”. I had to make a decision to either cling to my terms, or cling to God and trust He would take care of me. Finally, I was tired of the charade. Decision time was unavoidable. I just could not continue running from the full embrace of God’s calling – it became so draining! I couldn’t keep everything together, only God could meet all my needs. Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

During that decision time I spent so much time in prayer seeking God. As I made changes in my life God began to reveal to me a new set of terms – His promises! He promised to be with me, to meet all my needs, and assured me that He would always have my back. A difficult time of transition became an era of promises! My God had proven faithful to me, yet again. As Relient K sings “You’re the only one who knows [me] yet still loves [me] completely… through the times I’ve faded and you’ve outlined me again; You’ve just patiently waited to bring me back… Your voice has broken my defense. Let me embrace salvation.”

Six years later my life hasn’t been easy, but it’s been beautiful. I have watched God provide in good times and bad. He has delivered to me an amazing husband that I can live out my youth ministry calling with. Can you believe I ended up marrying a Pastor? We make an incredible team – leaving a dent in the kingdom of darkness! I wish there were words that existed to more accurately describe how fulfilling, joyous, and comforting it is be in the perfect will of the Father. I could have had a decent or “good” life on my terms… but now I’m living an EXTRAORINDARY life that is beyond my wildest dreams on His terms. How could I have ever thought my plans were better than God’s plan for me?

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:3-6

Kimberly Clervois is an enthusiastic Youth Minister with a passion for this generation of teenagers.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • God saw right through me and He let me know I was understood.  Buffer
  • Do you remember a time when you met the fork in the road?  Buffer
  • A story of an incredible team that is leaving a dent in the kingdom of darkness.  Buffer

Questions Jesus Asked in His Ministry

Sometimes people get the false impression that faith means learning the right answers. However, Jesus understood the importance of asking the right questions. Here are a few examples.

Questions of Priorities

The priorities I would write on paper and the priorities my choices write on the hours of my life sometimes begin to differ in the rush of living. A good question slices through the growing hypocrisy. Jesus understood the gap between intentions and actions, asking questions such as:

And why do you worry about clothes? (Matthew 6:28)

So, could you not watch with me one hour? (Matthew 26:40)

Why are you sleeping? (Luke 22:46)

Questions about Emotions

Jesus understood that faith is much more than intellectual assent. He knew that a good question presses beyond mere information to address the emotions driving our choices.

Why are you so afraid? (Mark 4:40)

Why are you crying? (John 20:15)

Does this offend you? (John 6:61)

Questions about Purpose

Jesus knew we are made for more than mere survival. Life is more than eating, sleeping, and working. Everyone has a greater purpose beyond just getting through the day. He asked people questions to help them get their focus beyond their immediate concerns to the larger spiritual truths.

But what about you? Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)

What do you want me to do for you? (Matthew 20:32)

Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? (Luke 5:22)

Honest answers to good questions grow our faith more than memorizing the right answers ever will.

 

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • A good question slices through growing hypocrisy.  Buffer
  • How do you handle the gap between intentions and actions?  Buffer
  • Everyone has a greater purpose beyond just getting through the day.  Buffer

Patterns Likely to Lead to Success

I enjoy sports on a recreational rather than competitive level, yet I often find inspiration for my non-athletic goals by observing the practices of top athletes. Even elite athletes occasionally experience bad days, sustain injuries, and perform under their potential for a game or a short stretch of a season. Yet, successful athletes know how to return to high performance levels after a setback. They know the secret to a comeback is repeating previous patterns of success.

Finding Patterns

A good coach will help an athlete uncover patterns worth repeating. For example, reflecting on what makes for a successful practice session shows an athlete how to prepare for the game. The coach prompts the athlete to consider the amount of sleep he had the night before, the particular foods he ate, how he warmed up, and what was on his mind. Many times when I am working toward a particular goal, I reflect on my past successes to look for useful patterns. I remember what it feels like to focus wholeheartedly on a goal. I remember how to disband negative thoughts and embrace a faith-filled outlook. I remember the work intensity necessary to meet a deadline. I rehearse in my mind the feelings associated with completion of the goal.

Attending Practice

Once I uncover the useful patterns, I need to put them into practice. Our brains love to form habits. Habits make life easy by decreasing the amount of mental processing needed to complete a task. Once you learn how to ride a bike, scramble eggs for breakfast or drive to work along a particular route, your brain guides you almost effortlessly through these tasks without you consciously thinking through each detailed step. Of course, as every golfer who has struggled to fix a faulty swing will tell you, habits can sometimes work against you.

Patterns in our brain are like riverbeds through which water effortlessly flows. Practice is about carving out and strengthening useful patterns. The key to getting rid of a bad habit or correcting a faulty golf swing is to repeat the new habit or swing until it replaces the old one. You can bring old patterns of success to life again to help you in your new endeavor by consciously repeating these patterns until they become automatic once more.

Being Yourself

Everyone has a unique way of getting things done that works for them. I have known many academic high achievers who seem to wait to the last minute to spring into action, yet always brilliantly achieve their goals. At first glance, you might accuse these achievers of procrastinating and urge them to change. However, what appears to outsiders as procrastinating is a pattern of success in disguise. These high achievers function by quietly collecting and processing vast quantities of data before taking visible action. In reality, they have not waited until the last minute to work toward their goals; they have been at work all along.

Both athletes and academic high achievers understand that being yourself is the key to high performance. My pattern of success may be very different from yours. You will do best when you employ your own previous patterns of success instead of mine. Stay true to what works for you to achieve your own best results.

From a spiritual standpoint, moving past doubts and disappointments requires revisiting key moments in your faith journey and remembering what God has done in your life. A good way to rekindle any relationship, whether spiritual or earthly, is to remember the relationship at its best and try to recapture those feelings by repeating the behaviors and actions that strengthened the relationship in the first place. Those patterns likely to lead to success live in your memories. They are waiting to help you succeed in sports, in life, and in all your relationships.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • Successful athletes know how to return to high performance levels after a setback.  Buffer
  • Stay true to what works for you to achieve your own best results.  Buffer
  • Patterns likely to lead to success live in your memories.  Buffer