It's the end of summer 2009 and I am three days away from driving across the country to start seminary when my phone rings. On the other end of the line is a guy named Dan Wooldridge, pastor at Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown, Texas. We had spoken a few times over the course of the summer about their open youth minister position. He asked me if I wanted to come down that Friday to Georgetown to interview for the position, because the guy they were planning on hiring had backed out. I told him that I was heading to North Carolina on Saturday for seminary, but sure, why not? I ended up taking the job and for most of the past 10 years I have been in vocational ministry. On the 10th anniversary of that first job, here are some reflections. 1. God is gracious to us--always Truth be told, that was one risky hire Crestview made. I had a degree in Practical Theology, yes, but I had next to no experience. I was 23 years old, single, and a bit of a shoot-from-the-hip communicator. (If you think I'm a shoot-from-the-hip communicator now, you have no idea!) But God was gracious to me. He knew the plan he had for me. And Crestview was the exact place I needed to be, and I had 7 wonderful years there. Never doubt God's grace to you. He is always working on behalf of those he loves. 2. You Probably Aren't the Next Spurgeon Yes, I know your grandmother and her friends think you are, but you just aren't. Most of us will labor in ministry and never be known by people outside of the congregations we serve. And that is okay. God has called you to serve where you are. He's called you to be you. Trust me, I know the pull to mimic the latest and greatest podcast preacher, but you are not him, and the effort to imitate him is making you look silly. Be faithful where God has you, shepherd the flock that is among you, and for the sake of those you shepherd, be you. 3. The People of God are Great I cannot even begin to describe all of the ways that my family has been blessed by the people of God. Sure, there are always some who profess to be God's children who are mean-spirited and have left you with scars. That is to be expected when people don't really know the Jesus they say they do. By and large, though, the people of God have been--and continue to be--a great encouragement to me. In many times, they have been a family to me when my biological family was far away. I am forever grateful for the people of God. 4. Jesus Will Build His Church What a promise. What a relief. I don't have to build it myself. I know I can't, but that has not kept me from trying in various ways these past 10 years. I am stricken with that same desire to disbelieve God that Adam and Eve had back in the garden. I am hobbled by the same mistrust the people of God displayed in the wilderness. That is why I am constantly grateful that when Jesus had the opportunity to disobey God in the wilderness, he refused; and when he had the opportunity to do his own will in the garden, he chose to obey and to take the cup of God's wrath instead. Jesus' obedience covers my disobedience. His obedience to the will of his Father ensures that he and he alone can and will build his church. 5. Your Plan is Cute I have lost count of the plans I have had for ministry in the past 10 years. But I have not lost count of the number of times my plans and the plans of God have lined up. That number is easy to remember--it's zero. God is gracious so he hasn't beaten me over the head with my bad plans. But I can't help but wonder if he hasn't chuckled a few times at my half-baked ideas. I have come to the point where I rarely verbalize what I think my future will look like. I am learning to trust God with the future. He has called me to be faithful to him, that is success. He will handle the rest.