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  • Chad Harrison

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?"

As a PK, I knew what the right answer should have been for this Sunday School question. Shane would spend the rest of the night talking about the costumes people wear every day. He would talk about how so many strive for the approval of others, looking for affirmation and significance, just wanting someone to tell them that they are good enough.



He pointed to Matthew 23 and how Jesus warned those that were pretending to be religious that they were playing a dangerous game because there is no fooling God. It felt like I was being exposed for the poser that I was and that he was talking right at me. I left that night wrestling with the question that Shane had asked. Maybe it wasn't the question that bothered me as much as the answer to that question. It didn't take long for me to turn the inner dialogue off however, and I would find myself back to just blending in with whatever group I was around. Don't get me wrong, I would have moments at church retreats, or the occasional Sunday altar call, where I would go forward and pray to be different, but the desire for acceptance of others was always waiting for me on Monday morning after the emotional music had faded away. But that question was always simmering in the background.


I can't recall many of the Bible lessons that people like Shane have taught me through the years ( I remind myself of that now as a pastor when I preach every week), but that question has not faded for me. A question that has lead to moments of soul-searching and daily reflection of my own motives. A question that God has used to reveal so much ugly in me, so many areas that point to my need for a Savior. I have learned to fail forward largely because of that question.


As I approach my 40th birthday I can look back now and see how Jesus has been there the whole time; waiting for me as I have strayed and celebrating when I turned to Him to be picked back up again. There have been times when the lessons ( and results of my own choices) were painful but He would whisper to me that He is a Master Craftsman turning all the things of my life into a tool that shapes me in ways that I am not even aware of. He has shown me that He is incredibly patient and forgiving, a master at practicing the long view while pouring out grace. He is everything I am not and everything I long to be. He is the one that has promised to finish what He has started in me and you.

I hate the fact that I am still prone to wander from time to time, but love that He hasn't walked out or abandoned me. He reminds me of the truth that I haven't let Him down because I was never holding Him up to start with.


What a relief. What a breath of fresh air. What a gift.


There is Hope in that.

There is Good News in that.

There is Love in that.

There is Grace in that.


My journey has been filled with ups and downs, and I am sure there will be more to come for me as I start my time as a pastor. I can't think of anything better than getting to walk with other people, sharing what we have all learned along the way through success and failures, and encouraging each other in our walks while pointing people to the Answer.


I am so thankful that God placed people in my life to ask my good questions. We need to ask ourselves and one another good questions. Questions are powerful, necessary and nothing to be afraid of. My life has been greatly changed because of simple, short questions and a Savior that never gives up and loves deeply.


So, if you don't mind, can I have just a minute of your time.


I have a question I want to ask you...




#tips #change