On Raising Our Hands in the Trenches

When I started MillennialEvangelical.com in 2014, I wanted to serve people and build a brand for myself.

At the height of the site, I was posting three-to-five times per week and doing everything I could to get my content noticed.

It was a lot of fun, but eventually I just got tired.

I got tired of trying to get noticed, and the whole thing stopped being fun, so my consistency dropped off and I lost interest.

I think I vacillated between having healthy and unhealthy motives for writing the Millennial blog at various points throughout the process. Sometimes my primary driver was to help pastors and parents. At other times my primary driver was to make a name for myself.

Ultimately, life has become pretty busy the last couple of years and I decided it was time to close the book on being “the Millennial guy.”

The Ugly Reality of Christian Platforming

Writing about this topic may seem hypocritical of me because I have the opportunity to coach a number of folks through a service called LifeWay Social. I help them understand who they want to reach with content online and provide them with tools to create helpful content on a consistent basis for their audiences. I am so thankful for the people I get to work with through LifeWay Social and their hearts to serve.

Whenever I start coaching people on social media strategy, I ask some pretty probing questions about motives. I want to make sure that I am not enabling anyone in their idolatrous pursuit of self-promotion. My goal is to equip them to serve others with the gifts God has given them. I have serious problems equipping anyone to pursue fame and fortune. In short, I don’t do it (knowingly, anyway).

Unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians using the internet in all kinds of ways—manipulating people and programs—to make a name for themselves. It makes me sick. Makes me feel nauseous.

I have zero interest in looking like I’m trying to do that myself. That’s a big reason I’m shutting down the Millennial blog.

So what then? Why even have this site?

This site is just where I’ll post stuff when I feel like writing things I’m comfortable sharing with others, in hopes of helping or encouraging people.

I won’t be writing often.

There is no fancy blog name.

I’m breaking basically every rule I tell anyone to follow.

I have no brand to maintain or strategy to execute.

I just needed a “home on the web” for when I want to write. And this will be that.

Digging in the Trenches

I was texting with a friend about the epidemic of Christians building platforms for their own glory recently.

I said something to the effect of, “We just need more people working hard in the trenches of ministry and not raising their hands to be noticed.”

Ministry is hard work. I’m a bi-vocational student minister. I can attest that ministry often feels like digging trenches.

We need more people in ministry who are happy to be digging trenches to help the cause without any acclaim.

We need fewer people in the trenches raising their hands to ask others to notice how nice their digging is.

It’s better for others to recognize how God has gifted you than for you to beg people to notice how God has gifted you.

For about four years, my hand has been raised off-and-on.

It’s time I just keep digging and forget about all that.

I Don’t Want to Change the World Anymore

When I was in the eighth grade, I had it all planned out: I would attend West Point Military Academy. I would become a lawyer. Then a senator. Then President of the United States. I wanted to change the world.

When I was a freshman in college, I resisted the Lord calling me to ministry because I was afraid of living on food stamps as a youth pastor for the rest of my life. After a number of friends and mentors (and the Holy Spirit) convicted me of my fear, I recognized the calling like they did and submitted myself to a lifetime of ministry. I had no idea what that would look like, but I knew I wanted to change the world.

But in the last year or so, I think something’s changed.

I don’t want to change the world anymore.

I can’t say for sure if my heart was in the right or wrong place when I used to want to change the world. Sometimes I am sure my motives were mostly good.

But I know that, many times, I wanted to change the world so I would be remembered. So that I would appear in school history textbooks and documentaries you would never watch on your own time but that you love to watch at school.

I wanted to change the world because it was the only way I thought I could achieve significance.

But I don’t want to change the world anymore.

I don’t want to be remembered in history textbooks or documentaries.

I don’t care to have a lasting impact on the world.

It sounds depressing, but I promise it’s not.

Serving as the leader of my local church’s student ministry has made me care more about discipling the middle and high schoolers in my community than getting blog pageviews on this site.

Settling into my role at LifeWay, even as much as it has changed over the years, has made me more interested in equipping others to stand in the spotlight than standing in it myself.

Reaching five years of marriage to my wife, Susie, has made me more interested in learning how to best serve and love her than pursuing opportunities to impress others.

Publishing my first book, a lifelong dream I never expected to accomplish, has made me less interested in ever publishing another one, no matter what “groundbreaking” ideas may come along.

As I have grown into adulthood and settled into a home, a job, and a community, I have lost my desire to change the world.

And I think that’s OK.

Whether it be because of recent events or because of a general growing in maturity I’m not sure, but I have come to the conclusion that living a life of ordinary faithfulness is no less noteworthy than a life that fills volumes of biographical books and documentaries.

I don’t want to change the world. I just want to live a life of quiet, ordinary faithfulness. To Christ. To my wife. To my church. To my work.

Don’t get me wrong: wanting to change the world isn’t bad. Don’t let me stop you.

I guess I’ve just become more concerned with doing everything I can to serve the people in my midst than with impressing people on the internet or otherwise around the world.

I’ve barely posted on here lately, and a small part of me has felt guilty about that. But a much bigger part of me hasn’t felt guilty about it at all, and I’ve wondered why.

I think it’s because I don’t care to change the world anymore.

I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and have been able to help on here over the years, but I just don’t care to do it as much anymore. Other things have taken priority.

I want to still help and serve people online. But it’s dramatically fallen down my list of priorities the last year or so.

So I apologize that I haven’t posted much on here lately.

But I’m not really that sorry about it.

Looking Back to 2017 and Ahead to 2018

Hey there, everyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve published something on this blog. I’ve drafted a few pieces in the last few months, but I didn’t like any of them enough to publish them for everyone to read.

So here we are in 2018. Just a couple of days in and a few weeks away from writing the right date on stuff.

The purpose of this blog post is to look back at what happened in my life in 2017 and ahead toward what is coming this year.

What Happened in 2017

We got a puppy. His name is Rizzo. He’s pretty great, but also super frustrating sometimes. He eats socks. Like whole.

I graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with my M.Div. in May. It was good to graduate. Attending SEBTS was a great experience, but I am happy to have a bit more time to spend with friends, serve in the church, and read a bit more widely than I had time to do in the past.

Then, about a month after I graduated, I turned in my 30,000+ word book manuscript to my book publisher. Ministering to Millennials should be released in the first quarter of this year. We are working on the final edits and the cover art right now.

Beyond that, the summer was pretty uneventful. A highlight was definitely leading a summer Bible study with some of the students in our youth group. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot closer with the youth guys that I help lead at our church.

Spanning the entirety of 2017 is a little project called LifeWay Social.

Like most people who work in social media, I have done a lot of contract work on the side. Around the summer of 2016, I decided that when I finished seminary in the spring of 2017, I wanted to formalize the contract work into more of a side business.

Long story made short, that project turned into LifeWay Social and it became part of my job at LifeWay instead of a project on the side.

LifeWay Social was announced in July 2017 and signups opened in October 2017. So far, I have been really happy with how it has done and my hope is that 2018 will be a great first full calendar year for LifeWay Social.

The LifeWay Social project is the main reason I have not written here on this blog nearly as much as I used to. So much of my time is caught up in, basically, studying social media and coaching Christians on how to use it better. From October through December of 2017, I was working 10-12 hour days pretty regularly as we ramped up LifeWay Social and got it rolling.

After doing all of that, when I finally have some free time at the end of a day or on the weekend, the last thing I want to do is sit down in front of yet another WordPress screen and write more blog content.

So, if you’ve been sad that I haven’t been writing here, I apologize. But I know most of you don’t care, so let’s move on to looking ahead to what 2018 holds.

What Is Ahead in 2018

We are just a couple of days into 2018. I love the start of the New Year. There isn’t anything spiritually significant about going from December to January, but it is helpful to have a sort of mental reset, and the changing of the year does that for me.

Also, the last two weeks of December each year are about the only time I let myself be lazy as a creator for any significant period of time. I try to write nothing, post little, and just relax the last two weeks of December each year.

By the time New Year’s Day rolls around, I am chomping at the bit to get back to work and get back to writing blog posts or articles for the various outlets I have the opportunity to serve.

Every even year since 2010, I try to read through the Bible in a year. I failed in 2016, but am picking it up again this year. I tend to like reading small chunks of Scripture and diving deeply into them, so read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans are a bit out of my comfort zone, but I think it’s a good practice and I have always enjoyed it in the past.

At a professional level, I hope I learn more in 2018 than I have in any year previously. I hope I become a better co-worker and a better coach. I learned a ton about social media and content creation in 2017, and I hope I learn as much in 2018. I want LifeWay Social to continue to grow and be a valuable resource for Christians trying to use social media well.

But beyond that, I hope 2018 provides me more opportunities to create content and put into practice what I have been learning the last year.

Through LifeWay Social and perhaps some other outlets, I am hoping to create more video content than I have in the past. I detest being on video. It makes me very uncomfortable because I lack self-confidence and I don’t like watching myself. But, it’s a growing area of content creation and I think I can be good at it if I work hard.

On a personal level, I want to be more involved in the lives of the students I have the opportunity to lead at our church and I want to be a more selfless husband for my wife. I want 2018 to be the year Susie and I look back on as the year we opened our home up to more people than we ever had before.

Anyway, that’s a bit of an update from me on the last year. I hope this site is still helpful for any of you who may read this.

Here we find ourselves, in the first week of 2018.

What does it hold? Who knows?

The turn of the year provides us with a mental reset and it should remind us that, while the year on the calendar may change, the Lord doesn’t. The faithfulness he has shown throughout our lives will remain in 2018, regardless of how unfaithful we may be.