Yesterday, I celebrated the 18th anniversary of my first concert. August 16, 1995 is a day permanently etched in my mind. See, let me explain the scenario. A just turned fifteen year old girl who had a dream to do music was asked by her youth pastor to do a concert for the youth group. That spring God had put it in his heart to do what he could to help me see my dream come true. I served my church on the worship team of the youth group, college and career group and even kids ministry. I sang and played piano. Aside from my worship team responsibilities the most I ever I did was sing offering specials, one song at a time. So doing a concert and talking in between songs, etc. was a big deal for this girl. My youth pastor, Jeff Ables, obeyed an invitation from God and it changed my life forever. Sure, without his help I was still on a path to do music and probably one day eventually would do so but my youth pastor helped me move from neutral into drive. The date was scheduled, the songs were chosen, the singers and band would rehearse. My amazing piano teacher, Willie Davis, who was Carman’s music director back when that was a very cool thing 🙂 helped me plan what to say, where to stand, etc. That Wednesday instead of our normal youth service I got to start living my dream. I even did two original songs that night. The wheels were now turning. In the year that would follow I would make my first 2 song recording and start doing other events around my community. By August of 1997 I was recording my first CD and getting ready to hit the road and tour at churches and youth groups all around. The rest of the story is the journey that leads me to where I am today.

As I was reminiscing yesterday on the anniversary of such a special day in my life I was reminded of so many different people that impacted my life as a teenager. And I realized why I believe in student ministry so much. People impact people. Andy Stanley said it best when he said “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” I have amazing parents and I know that. I’m super grateful for them and their investment, love and support of me always.  Looking back I understand that there were other voices too, other people I looked up to and who believed in me. Each week they invested and spent time with me. Their challenging questions about how I was growing in my relationship with God that may have felt uncomfortable at the time all shaped me into who I am today. There were so many adults that planted seeds in me. They helped water those seeds with their words to help me realize who God had made me to be and what He had called me to do. I would not be here without them. I want to say a big thank you to just a few of those people: Lucinda Farrington, Johnnie Hampton, Kelly Williams, Carolyn Dudley, Joel & Jennifer Scrivner, Hugo & Michelle Montes, Ric Larson, Scott Sunday.  I truly say thank you from the bottom of my heart for the difference maker you were to my life. You helped raise me up. You contributed to the kingdom of God by doing so. I could never repay you but know you make my heart very full and I’m grateful.

This is why I believe in student ministry. “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you raise.” I was raised by not just my parents and not just my pastors but volunteers in my church. People that gave up their time to speak into my life. They helped show me what a Christian looks like. They encouraged me that God did have a plan for my life. They spoke words of life into my heart. I am who I am today because of these fine people and so many more.

Each week I serve at my church in the high school ministry. I help lead worship and help lead a campus group. I hope that I can impact at least one student the way others impacted me. This is how we the kingdom of God grows and flourishes. Never underestimate the time you invest in others. Even when it feels mundane and meaningless I can assure you it is treasure chest of blessing to somebody in your world. Keep giving to others. Keep speaking into the lives of the next generation. Keep being an example of Jesus to your world. This ministry may be your finest achievement in the end and that seems like a mighty good thing to me.

With a grateful heart,