Why 19-Year-Old Me Would Punch Present-Day Me In The Face

Why 19-Year-Old Me Would Punch Present-Day Me In The Face

This past September our third child, Emily, was born–we are so thankful for her and that God has so richly blessed us.

As we prepared for Emily’s arrival, however, one reality became painfully clear: our Subaru outback could not accommodate three car seats.  “That’s okay, we’ll just get an SUV,” I told myself.  It would be okay–no problem.  Yet the more we looked, the more difficulty we had deciding on one that would not only fit our family the way we wanted but, more importantly, fit in our garage without destroying doors.

“Maybe we could look at some minivans?”  my wife would delicately ask.  NO WAY.  What is she, crazy?  There’s no way I’m getting a minivan.

Then I went and drove one.

We now have a minivan.

The spacious room, the ability to accommodate multiple kids with carseats, the ease of use–it’s all pretty fantastic.

Enter 19-year-old me.  I was hoping he wouldn’t show up.  See, he hates minivans, and made a promise that he would NEVER own one. Ever.  He says things to me like, “You’re a sell out!  You know all those people you made fun of?  That’s YOU!  Way to go, wuss.”  He then proceeds to punch me in the face.

Yes, 19-year-old me made some bold claims that at the time, seemed to be iron-clad, can’t lose declarations.  19-year-old me was also an idiot.  As time goes by, I see things in my life constantly changing.  Context informs content, and I see myself saying and thinking and doing things I swore I would never think or say or do.  I’ve had to adapt my thinking and actions to better fit the myriad changes in my life.  This is what I had to realize:

Adaptability does not equate compromise.

In 1st Corinthians 9:22, Paul states that he becomes all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel.  Does that mean he compromised his beliefs? Not at all.  It does however indicate that Paul was intensely aware that people encounter the Gospel in different ways, and he needed to be able to adapt to how they could best hear the life-changing message of Jesus Christ.

Does your church embrace a posture of adaptability, or does it hunker down into a defensive posture of “we’ve never done it that way before”? When I hear churches say “we’ve never done it that way”, what is often being said is, “We don’t know how to do it differently, and this way is really comfortable.”

God calls us to adapt to those who need to hear his message of hope.  Let’s not get stuck in old methods that no longer support or reflect best practices in ministry simply because we are unsure of how things will look in the future.

Yes, the 19-year-old version of me would probably punch present-day me in the face for buying a minivan, but here’s the thing: I’d rather disappoint 19-year-old me than be stuck because of my stubbornness.

It would do well for our churches to do the same.

3 Comments

  1. James Miller

    19 year old me only shopped at thrift stores, only listened to christian rock, and only liked a girl named Sarah Schmittt. One of those is still true.

  2. Spot on man! We specialize in youth ministry consulting, coaching, and curriculum development – and routinely tell youth pastors (and a surprising number of senior pastors) the same thing; however, not sure we’ve ever said it THAT eloquently. Thank you for a brilliant article 🙂

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