Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thankful 30: Sam, Derek & MurDog

During the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I am posting a letter a day expressing thankfulness for someone or something that has played a major role in shaping the first 30 years of my life.

Dear Sam, Derek, and Murray,
 It's hard for me to believe that I was only technically a student in your ministry for two years. The first two years that y'all were youth pastors at Fellowship I was in 7th and 8th grade. We moved to Kansas City the summer before my 9th grade year, and the next time I was under your leadership was when I came back as a cell group leader my freshman year of college. Those two years were so important in my life, though, and the impact you made helped to carry me through some tougher high school years.

  Sam, the way you communicated to a bunch of rowdy junior high kids made me believe that God had a great plan for me and wanted to use me right then, at that time in my life. Not just later, when I was a grown-up, but as a student. This sort of thinking is so ingrained in the culture of Fellowship now (probably largely because of you) that it seems almost like a silly thing to say; but I don't think it was necessarily the norm back then. You had high expectations of us ... not in a demanding or demeaning way, but in a challenging and motivating way. So many of the teaching illustrations you used have stuck with me and continue to be the automatic way i think about certain passages of Scripture or Biblical concepts. Thanks for being a wonderful teacher and not at all boring.

  Derek, from you I learned so much about what the love of Jesus looks like in action. When I think of you, I think of your enthusiasm and joy, and your ability to get anyone excited about anything. I was so challenged by the way you were so excited about everyone, even the kids that annoyed everyone else. I can think of several occasions (I'm sure there were tons) when you would elevate an unpopular kid to hero status because of how you treated him. What an awesome way to show Jesus to jr. high and high school kids. Thank you, also, for the example you set in serving the Lord as you waited for the Lord to bring you your spouse. I knew my parents didn't really want me to date in high school, and I was fine with that; but the way you spoke about dating relationships (at least for high schoolers) made me feel like maybe I wouldn't be the most uncool person after all if I waited until I was older to date. What a blessing to have leadership that encouraged me to honor my parents' hearts for me and that helped strengthen my confidence in God's plan for me! I will always remember you talking about how amazing your wife was going to be, and I'm so glad you have her and a handsome son, as well. Fellowship will miss you as you follow God into this new adventure.

  Murray, you were so cool. I mean, you still are, but whether you had the ponytail or a bald head with a long goatee, you were just the coolest to all of us. And, you were so funny and such a great musician (also still true). You always made us laugh. I think that, sadly, lots of youth pastors are content to stop there - with being really cool and funny and musically talented - but not you. You were so great at not only being fun and crazy, but also at teaching us how to calm our hearts before the Lord and focus on Him. I loved having you as a worship leader and I still frequently listen to the two live worship recordings that you did. Thank you for teaching us to worship.

  All three of you meant so much to me. After I moved to Kansas City, Mrs. Stephanie Johnson mailed me a picture of all of you hanging on the monkey bars at the church playground. That picture was framed and on my dresser for all four years of high school. It has been neat to get to see the different ways God has continued to use all of you over the years. Thank you for the sacrifices you made (and continue to make) to impact lives!



Kristin J. said...

This is so true! My thanks to you guys as well! God has used you in all of our lives and continues to use you now! Thanks for your faithfulness!

MurDog said...

Wow, thank you for your kind words. God is good, he still is and he proved it by taking some under trained goofballs and proving his greatness in spite of us.

kaw said...