There are seasons of life when margin shrinks way back.
You know what I mean. The kind of seasons when life sort of takes on a 'life' of its own. Manageable tasks become unmanageable. The calm of daily rhythms and regular seasons become disjointed and unpredictable.
Certain seasons of life shrink our margin of productivity. But it's during these times that God prepares us for new growth.
That pretty much sums up my Fall.
Through last August, I maintained a regular blogging schedule of 2-3 blogs per week, beginning at the launch of this site in January '13. Statistically, I lasted 6 months longer than most bloggers. High-fives all around!
Blogging gives me life. It's a creative outlet for me to work out in a productive, fulfilling manner strategic ideas on the topic of mission, culture, and church through the lens of Youth Ministry. This isn't a journal. It's a resource for those who need it. And it is a means for me to continue exercising my ministry muscles in order to provide my community and the wider Body of Christ with resources for the family and church to better understand and interpret adolescent development and faith formation.
Blogging is a spiritual discipline. It draws me closer to God. It doesn't replace my devotion. Rather, it supplements it. And how could it not? I'm trying to use my theological resources to better understand this crazy, bizarre world of teenagers and the culture in which they live. It's a wonderful challenge.
The first 8 months of my blogging journey were amazing!
And then August 29th. I received a life-changing ministry phone call that has since tested every bit of my call and preparation to youth ministry. I would hope and pray that tragedies like what happened to one of our own would never happen to anyone's family or community. And with deep sadness, it happened to our crew.
Much of my time since then - time that I otherwise would have devoted to blogging - has been given over to the amazing honor of walking alongside of family, friends, and our church community during this difficult season. It has been a privilege, and if it cost me time blogging, then so be it. I have learned more about practical ministry, my call to ministry, and the unique ways that God ministers through grief to the grieving during this season than I thought I could ever learn during my time as a Student Pastor.
Sidenote: In this regard, I believe even more so now than ever before that youth ministry is the most dynamic, demanding, and rewarding ministry within the church.
Furthermore, this recent challenging season has been coupled with one of the greatest joys of my life: the anticipated arrival of our first child on January 21st! My wife, Stacy, and I cannot wait to welcome Hannah Grace to our family! And so likewise, spare time that I would have used for blogging was offered to my wife as we prepare for Hannah's arrival.
We have been soaking up our final weeks together of life as we know it, and I've been doing my best to take care of her during times when she doesn't feel so good - dads, you know what I'm talking about! We could not feel more excited as Stacy and I prepare for our amazing, wonderful challenge of parenthood.
Sidenote: To fathers of daughters: I'm looking for advice on how in the world to raise a little girl! This is simultaneously the most terrifying, amazing adventure yet!
And so the last 3 months bring me to now. My first real blog post in nearly 2 months. With a greater sense of self and call than even 2 months ago, let me share with you 3 thoughts about what's ahead for RyanReed.me:
1. You can once again expect 2 blog posts per week from now until the internet blows up. Blogging is a discipline. It truly does require intentionality and forethought. Anything less is simply random, incoherent thoughts scattered into the web. Blogging takes time and planning. Good blog posts plus consistency equals trust and momentum. These last few months have taught me just how important and urgent this kind of commitment means, and I want to take up this challenge.
2. You can expect greater access to meaningful, relevant, and thought-provoking content. As difficult as these recent months have been for me, God has affirmed in my heart over and over again my call to the great work of Youth Ministry. To some, this is an entry level job, a stepping stone to more prestigious positions within the church. To me, it is a gift. It is one of the highest callings. It is an honor. During the recent months, I've been searching for new content to help me navigate the regular challenges of day-to-day ministry. And luckily for us, I've been taking notes along the way. I've encountered great stuff that has spurned me on to new insights into adolescent development and faith formation. In turn, therefore, I want to share them with you so that you and I may be better equipped for this great work. And together we can engage in conversations that serve our teenagers better.
3. You can expect additional resources on my social media outlets. During this recent season, I've been researching and rethinking the purpose of my social media outlets. I asked myself, "What's the purpose for my time invested into these mediums?" They take a ton of time and energy to keep them up to date, time and energy away from other things. Then, a couple of months ago, I cam across an article in Elle Magazine about teenagers and the use of social media for dating. It rocked my world, and affirmed to me that social media usage is key to communicating and sharing with not just teenagers but you, as well. Therefore, connect me on Facebook and Twitter. I'll follow you back, and we'll connect together within a wider network of others attempting to understand and interpret teenagers and faith formation.
QUESTION: How has God been shaping you? What resources have you encountered to better equip yourself for ministry and work with teenagers? Either as a pastor, parent, volunteer, or caring adult?