Jars of Clay performing during the Student Night of the Metroplex Mission with Billy Graham in Texas Stadium in Dallas, Texas. 48,000 passageway.org Backstage Pass CD-ROMs were given out that evening, thus my reason for being there. 82,000 people showed up that night, a new record for Texas Stadium. Of course the record only lasted one day. Sunday night’s attendance was 83,500.
I also have a fun treat for everyone, the Bushtop. George H.W. Bush spoke at the Mission on Thursday night, and we got this great photo of Bush blinking. I thought it made a nice Max Headroom-esque desktop. So there you have it: the Bushtop.
I also need to do a little self-promotion. I was on the radio today. Take a listen: October 14, 2002 Decision Today (listen to the first segment, “Billy Graham Youth Web Site”).
So busy I can hardly keep it all straight. One thing did finally come to an end today. 7 months of focused effort at work have finally resulted in a redesigned web site. I put in plenty of overtime on this one, and as good as it feels to finally have the site up, it’s still not done. We’ll be fixing and adding and tweaking for months. Joyous.
I now have a cube to call my very own. I think I can now say I’ve “made it.”
Since it’s very likely that I’ll be moving across the country in a few years to follow my job, it’s really made me think about what I want to do in life. And I’m not just talking about the big picture, I want to write a book and have a few kids kind of thing. I’m talking about my job type stuff. Where I’m working, what I’m doing, how it’s going kind of thing.
Basically, is this really the job I want to have forever? We always have this image of constant advancement. It’s as if I’m always supposed to be moving up in the world. I can’t be an Assistant Editor forever. Some day I have to be just the Editor. Then the Managing Editor. Then the Supreme Editor of all. Or something like that.
But I’m beginning to question that. Do I really want to be the managing editor? At this point in my life, the answer is no. I like my job. I like that I don’t have to be the final answer. I like that someone else has to deal with the really sticky questions. I like that I can go home at the end of the day and let things go. Maybe in a few years I’m yearn for more responsibility, but right now, I don’t want to advance.
That seems so anti-establishment. Can you really want to just stay where you’re at? Financially it doesn’t make a lot of sense, especially being an editor. I guess maybe I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Maybe in several years I’ll have changed and want something more. But for now I’m not really worried about the financial matters and moving forward to advance my career.
I’m reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
“Each of us lives in two realms, the internal and the external. The internal is that realm of spiritual ends expressed in art, literature, morals, and religion. The external is that complex of devices, techniques, mechanisms, and instrumentalities by means of which we live. These include the house we live in, the car we drive, the clothes we wear, the economic sources we acquire—the material stuff we must have to exist. There is always a danger that we will permit the means by which we live to replace the ends for which we live, the internal to become lost in the external.” (Strength to Love, page 70)
I have to head back to work tomorrow, which isn
Just last week I realized how lucky I am. I graduated college and got a job. That’s a pretty good start. The fact that the job I got is within my major is pretty cool, too. The really cool thing is that I actually like my job.
In high school I worked in a grocery store and I remember counting the hours. It was always two hours until break, four hours until lunch, six hours until the next break, eight hours until I get to go home. I’d count it down and try to work the system by working two and a half hours and pushing my breaks back, so the last two hour stretch would only be an hour. I played mind games with myself while I stocked frozen peas because I really didn’t like stocking frozen peas.
Now at my job I hardly realize what time it is. Break time comes and goes and half the time I don’t notice. I’ve never once counted how many hours I have left. Granted, some days are harder than others, and I do take my breaks and enjoy the rest it gives my brain. But it is such a blessing to actually enjoy my job. It’s actually worth the unfathomable debt I’ve strapped to my back in college loans just to be able to work at a job you like.
I was hanging out with Justin McRoberts today. The guy really makes me think. But before I get in to that I want to address something. Since I started working full time I’ve been doing this multiple personality thing. When I’m not working I’m Kevin D. Hendricks, Editor of ReALMagazine.com. When I am working I’m Kevin D. Hendricks Assistant Editor of passageway.org. It’s a very odd situation because I can’t be both people at the same time. Case in point: Justin McRoberts has done work for ReALMagazine.com–he writes the On the Road journal entries. He was coming through town and we decided to interview him for passageway.org. While I was talking to him on the phone about the interview I could only talk about passageway.org related stuff and not ReALMagazine.com stuff because I was at work. Billy Graham doesn’t pay me to talk about ReALMagazine.com stuff. It’s kind of a weird situation. And it gets even better. The things I write for work are actually owned by my employer. The Billy Graham Evangelical Association owns them, not me. So if I interview someone (like I did twice this week) and then write an article about it (like I did once this week), not only can I not sell the article again as my own, but I can’t even use the interview to write another article. The interview and the writing is all owned by my employer. It makes sense, but it just seems odd when you have all these different hats you get to wear.
Anyway, most of what I want to talk about from my discussions with Justin McRoberts today come from my time with him today while I was wearing my passageway.org hat. But now I’m wearing my ReALMagazine.com hat and I’m just going to usurp my power as passageay.org Assistant Editor and talk about some of Justin’s ideas. It’s not like this is the only time he’s talked about them.
One of Justin’s big things is what I like to call the Young Life evangelism method. Young Life is this Christian group that teaches adults how to reach out to kids. Their basic premise is that you have to earn the right to be heard. Before you can expect to share the gospel with someone you have to earn their trust and respect by simply loving them and spending time with them. In a way this is Justin’s model for ministry. So he was explaining how that’s how Jesus did things. Jesus went to the hookers and befriended them and hung out with them and told them about God. In our churches we think that’s a crazy thing to do. We never actually go to the sinners of this world and love them on their own terms. We always want them to come to our little Christian event and hear the gospel. But we haven’t earned their respect. We haven’t earned the right to be heard.
It’s an interesting concept which drew two thoughts to mind. 1) I found it rather ironic that Justin was hanging out at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association talking about how the church needs to be going and meeting people where they’re at, not expecting them to come to our Christian events. Of course that’s exactly what Billy Graham does, coordinate these massive Christian events. I wonder if there’s a way Justin and Billy could sit down and mesh their ideas together. 2) I wondered why Justin is in the Christian Music industry. If he wants to meet people were they’re at, why here? He said he’s here trying to earn the right to be heard. He doesn’t think he can just tell the Christian industry how to do things until he earns the right to be heard. Which makes him seem kind of prophetic. When he finally does earn that right to be heard, I wonder if we’ll listen. I also wonder what it would look like if he took his music to the mainstream culture and tried to earn the right to be heard. I imagine that he’d go far, and I’d love to see him try. I always feel like there are so few Christians who actually do that.
I’m filled with lots of thoughts today. Milo would say that’s a good thing. Because if you’re not thinking you better be careful or you’ll end up in the Doldrums. And I think the Doldrums are a nice and cozy hell.
When did it happen that ministry became a higher calling than any other profession? Somehow working for Jesus makes you a better person than stocking shelves at the grocery store or driving a bus or a crunching numbers at the bank. And don’t tell me it’s not true. When people asked where I was going to work after I graduated, every single person reacted with overwhelming enthusiasm when they learned I was going to work for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. If I said I was going to be an Assistant Editor they didn’t care too much. Oh that’s nice. But Billy Graham? Oh, Billy Graham! That’s just wonderful. Everyone did that. Apparently I’m a better person sitting behind my desk at the BGEA than I would be stocking shelves at the grocery store.
This is a serious misunderstanding of our culture. Certainly I am doing God’s work at the BGEA. But can’t I do God’s work at the grocery store? Isn’t being an example and encouragement to my fellow employees God’s work? Aren’t I ministering to everyone I come in contact with at the grocery store just as much as I’m ministering to people who read articles on BGEA web sites? How is one better than the other? Is an eye greater than the foot? We’re all part of the body, and we’re all equally important.
Paid to pray. Now there’s an interesting concept. At work my department takes prayer requests and prays before every staff meeting. During that time I’m technically being paid to pray. I suppose it makes sense, considering that I work for Billy Graham. But it still seems odd. It’s happened before when I worked as an intern, but I wasn’t being paid so the thought didn’t register. And it’s not that I don’t like being paid to pray. I work for an evangelistic ministry, it comes with the territory. If nobody’s praying you’ve got a problem. I just don’t like the thought that for those few minutes I’m on the clock. And yes, it would be tedious to punch out for ten minutes, so I just have to live with this odd little twist.
I suppose it’s just as odd to consider that I’m being paid to evangelize. My specific job title isn’t evangelism, but that’s what I’m working towards. I just edit the words the evangelists use. Seems kind of odd. In high school I was warned not to proselytize. Now I get paid for it.
And try measuring job performance in spiritual terms. How do you do that? And you kind of have to do that. If this method isn’t effective, it’s a waste of money. Let’s do something else. So you have to judge the spiritual effectiveness of what you’re doing.
The world of ministry work is an odd and kooky one.