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The Youth Pastor is a Stray Dog

Dear brothers and sisters… I want to describe for you two types of dog. The first is my beautiful and wonderful Zoe. Zoe is a black lab who I love dearly. She is cared for, fed, and a part of this family. I love having her around and her desire to be loved and give love is incredible. Below is a picture of her at the lake doing what she does best.

Enjoying the wild, running free, and fetching the tennis ball gives her a chance to waller in being everything I knew she could be as a pup when I first laid eyes on her. But this is not us? Or at least not the majority of us on the inside.

There have been years and tremendously horrible seasons of my life that I was a stray. Strays have no home. They roam the alley ways, roads, and back corners of this world going for days at a time ransacking the garbage piles and handouts. They have learned to live with going from place to place coming oh so close to being caught, shot, or near death. Darkness looks more like the dog you see next in this post.

Emaciated, starved, diseased, guarded, defensive, unapproachable, alone, uncared for, and unchecked. You think about and can even talk about the life you should live but you’ve learned that the way you are is as good as it gets. The only problem is that this is more of a description of your soul than it is your appearance right? How did you come to this? You deserve so much better as a daughter of Christ or Son of the most high. You have spent so much of yourself taking care of others that you have failed to see your condition. I think you took that first job and got hurt so you learned to guard yourself and run.

You had high expectations on yourself but awkwardly discovered that what you endeavored to give to others would not be given to you. So you lived with it. You worked somewhere for two years then another for just a year then again another for two. You never planned that it’s the nature of what you do but you’ve absorbed it because everyone thinks of you like Zoe. Your pain, hurt, fear, and loneliness has left you diseased and starved in your heart hasn’t it? James puts it this way… “God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.” Don’t learn to be content with being a stray. You can’t live off of the scraps of a rag tag spirituality bitter against the ones who are being cared for around you. You need grace and it won’t be found in your desire to cling to the idol of independence and indifferent allowance.

Put your guard down and wander into the door of community. Don’t hold hostage the people around you with your fears of being caught, shot, or dying to self.

13Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.

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Chad Swanzy has served in youth ministry for 15 years and currently works as the student ministry director at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. Learn more from Chad and ask him your questions at ChadSwanzy.com.