A Question To Wrestle With.
Growing up as a Pastor's kid (PK from here on) had it's perks. If you have ever been to a church potluck lunch, I mean a legit, after Sunday service when the pastor went a little too long, food taking up at least two large folding tables pot luck, you know what I mean...PERK
Being a PK also had its challenges. While my classmates were rocking out and listening to New Kids On The Block, I was given the option of the latest mainstream Christian band in hopes that Carmen would satisfy my thirst for music and my keep my faith intact...CHALLENGE.
When Shane became the youth pastor at our church I wasn't ready for what the next 5 years would bring for me personally. Shane was ( and still is) a rock-star, at least to me anyway, and one of the "coolest" Christians I have been around. He would become a major influence in my life, not by doing anything major, but rather by spending time and asking challenging questions.
By the time he had came into my life I had figured out a few ways to bring pop culture into my world (like a little MTV ninja).
Carmen ( If you don't know Carmen, click here to get an idea) was replaced with Tupac Shakur, as well as other rappers that were played at school dances and listened to by my friends (probably because as rural, white kids, we so closely related to the lyrics and culture of hip-hop). My desire wasn't really for different music, I just knew that the crowd I wanted to be accepted by wasn't listening to "Satan, bite the dust". My longing to fit in would lead me to several questionable decisions and cringe worthy memories ( SILK SHIRTS ANYONE?).
I didn't mind being a PK, I just didn't want people to identify me as ONLY a PK. I became pretty good at mirroring the crowd that I was with at any given time... Church event, no problem, I could do that. Corn field - drinking with friends, I could do that too. I became comfortable wearing a variety of masks and doing whatever it took to please people. But then a question was posed that would haunt me to this very day. This question didn't create an immediate change, I didn't even recognize it for some time, but a seed was planted through Shane, and would eventually begin to take root.
Shane is the kind of guy that doesn't pull punches ( the kind of guy that will tell you when you have broccoli in your teeth or that you're being dumb) but does it in such a way that you don't question his motives. One night at our weekly youth group he was asking what kinds of music we like, and to nobody's surprise, we were informed that we needed to update our illegally burned CD collections. When we complained about the lack of what we considered "good" Christian music he had a response ready that made it seem like he already knew our objections. He said,
"There is a world out there that you are unaware of when it comes to Christian music. You just need to be introduced. What you put into your mind matters whether you realize it or not"
Shane is a likable guy and was wildly different from any youth leader we had had until this point. He loved sports, was young and charismatic, wore his hair all spiky, was in the Navy, had an infectious laugh and just oozed "cool" to me. Our youth group grew mostly due to Shane and his wife Vanessa. They had a love for Jesus and hearts that loved, accepted and related to teens. If there was someone that could make Christian music "cool" to me, it was this guy. He asked us for some of the artist that we liked from the secular world and promised to bring some Christian alternatives the following week. The days that followed that youth group meeting were quite normal for me. I wasn't sitting on the edge of my seat, counting down the minutes to our next youth group. Nope. I was cranking the volume up in my car to the latest Puff Daddy single without a care in the world, Shane was out of sight and that meant church stuff was out of mind.
When I walked into our next youth group meeting I was ready to play the part of a Christian teen. The guy that new the Sunday School answers and the "right" way to act in settings like these, unless of course, there were new teens to impress in which I quickly would try way to hard to stand out.
I noticed that Shane had brought several different Christian bands for our group to check out. He made some recommendations to us all and asked that we give them an honest try the next week. I thought maybe by taking him up on the offer I might earn some bonus points with him at the next youth group meeting if I came in singing some of the lyrics.
I grabbed the band that Shane said was his favorite, a group I had never heard of before called, The Waiting. I liked them mostly because Shane liked them. I kept listening to the different CD's that Shane had given me for that week. I wasn't ready to trade in (or burn as some of the other youth group students did) my collection of of CD's but did agree that there was a world of Christian music I was unaware of. When we got to the lesson that night I wasn't expecting to get hit with a question that would stick with me for life. It turns out, Shane is a bit of a ninja himself and wanted to help us understand that what we choose matters. He opened that youth group meeting by asking one simple question...
"Who are you living for? Is it for Jesus or for You?"