Thursday, August 18, 2005

Shifting Paradigms

It seems lately that my life consists of many interposed paradigm shifts. Throughout this past school year I found myself often immersed within scholarly literature and saw my perspective on biblical interpretation and criticism greatly altered. I have enjoyed the throes of academia and will often say, "one's view of God determines, in part, their relationship with Him." I am beginning to wonder if I have used intellectualism to shield myself against some of the more tangible parts of ministry.

First, let me be clear. I do not see a grand disconnect between intellectualism and practicality. After all, in order for something to be truly intellectually beneficial must it not also be practical? Therefore the cognitive processes seem to be interdependent upon practicality. However, ministry is much more than simply a philosophical belief system being mechanically lived. Ministry, at times, moves outside of our tidy expectations and forces us to again redefine our paradigm for ministry.

This summer has moved me to higher thinking while simultaneously moving me to a deeper level of connection with others. That deeper connection has become emotionally concrete for me with the happenings of last week.

Last week was the last week of the Blacktop Rec. program. It was, therefore, also the last week of ACCESS. The ACCESS group that volunteered for last week was comprised of about 18-20 people. To be completely honest I have never contemplated youth ministry as a pastoral vocation that I would be interested in. God has gifted me in the areas of preaching and teaching and also have given me an astute mind to deal with the more difficult theological issues. I have a passion for moving people deeper in their knowledge of who God is in order to better their relationship with Him. Yet this last week I made an incredible connection with some fantastic youth. I spent about 18 hours a day with these youth and on the last day I spent about 29 straight hours with them. In short, Christ blessed me with the ability to share His love with this group. Christ set in my heart a love for this group and all of us were greatly impacted by the week.

Suddenly I am undergoing another paradigm shift. I gave my entire energy to this group for a week. I prayed with them, taught them, mentored them, sang with them, discipled them, goofed around with them, etc. I exhaustively invested myself into this group. Nonetheless, at the end of the week they returned home to Iowa. I felt as if this group, MY group, had been ruthlessly torn from my life. For a week I held them in my hand and as swiftly as they had arrived they were taken from me. The emotion which resides within me is indescribable. I miss them.

I believe I am at a teachable point in my young life. For years now I have been making plans. Plans to graduate and go to an intellectually respected seminary. Plans to receive my Masters of Divinity and to head into a pastoral role. Now I feel lost, confused, disappointed and yet overjoyed that God has placed His hand into my plans and twisted it.

Dear Lord, what do you really want me to do with my life? Perhaps a comprehensive life-plan is not only unnecessary but also deleterious to myself. For now, I will thank God for the love He has given me for this group from Lone Tree and pray that He shows me how He wants me to remain in their lives. Perhaps having a correlation between my paradigms and plate tectonics is not such a bad thing.


Nathan Hart said...

hey Ben. good thoughts. i like to say that intellectual theology informs my faith, but does not define it.

Ben Robinson said...


Thanks for the input. "Theology informs my faith, but does not define it." I appreciate this wisdom.

In Christ,