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Leveraging Your Mobility

David McNeely, Pastor of Wildwood Church shares... The first five years of my twenties were spent being poured into the lives of high school students.  Many of them were athletes and a few of them were drunks.  Some were even both.  I was a part time coach and a part time youth pastor.

I had attended Alcoholics Anonymous since I was 17, but it was almost two full years of meetings before I experienced freedom from the bondage of the bottle.

After crawling through the depths of despair, freedom came when I had a life transforming encounter with the God/Man called Christ.

From then on, I was on a mission to let every teenager I came across know about the freedom to be found in a relationship with Jesus.

I was single and able to devote hours on end to guys with dating problems or parent conflicts.  I could show up at parties to remove them from peer pressures when they called.  I was on the field or court to watch their athletic successes.  I drove them to job interviews and tutor sessions.

I picked them up for Church on Sunday morning when the rest of their family could not make it.  We went fishing, hunting, hiking, biking, rafting, drafting, and spent who knows how many hours playing video games.

In short, I had the time to invest.  I say invest because rarely does one get to see (right away) the fruit of all the time, money, effort, energy, prayer, blood, sweat, tears, etc. deposited into the lives of a handful of young men.  That typically doesn’t pay off until a few years down the road.

My mentor used to make the comparison of Poplar trees and Oak trees.  Oak trees grow slow.  The roots run deep and the growth is rarely noticed; but oaks are not real susceptible to disease and years later that tree will be strong and solid.

Another option is to plant Poplars.  They grow fast and you can get real excited about the quick shade, but they are susceptible to disease.  Often they will rot from the inside in a short period of time.  I can still hear him say, “We are in the business of planting oak trees in high school ministry.”

So previous to the Fall of 1995 I had all kinds of time to invest into the lives of young men.  But on October 14, that all changed.  I no longer had the discretionary time that would match a high school schedule.  I got married.  My time was no longer just MY time. For the first time in my life I understood why Paul said, “I wish that all were as I myself am...To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.” (1 Corinthians 7:7, 8)  I came face to face with the reality that I lost much of the mobility to minister.

Do not misunderstand me, it was good, and right, to lose it.  God called me to lose it.  Since that was God’s plan for me, I am better off with less mobility.  I would even go so far as to say I am a much better minister now because of my wife.

It became clear that I had been placing much of my identity in being available to students.  I had developed unhealthy habits that were unearthed through marriage.  I was a deeply flawed man with large quantities of time previous to marriage.

And while many great things are brought with marriage, mobility is taken away.  In 1 Cor 7 Paul is driving our attention to the unique opportunity to leverage your missional mobility while you can.  Hel also said in Ephesians 5 to, “Make the most of every opportunity.”

The single man or woman has the opportunity to leverage their missional mobility for the Kingdom of God in a way that the married person cannot.  I do not wish to imply that one is better than the other, but I do wish to plead with the single man or woman to not waste those years.  If God has called you to be single at the moment, then make the most of this opportunity.

At our church the stated goal is “To equip singles to leverage their missional mobility and to make wise marital decisions.”  I realize the longing of many singles is to be married.  That is a good desire.  I will never urge someone to want something else.  I would only remind them of Paul’s desire that all would be as he was.

High school students are not the right fit for everyone.  The goal is not to get more youth workers.  The goal is to invite you to leverage your mobility and invest in people where you hear the call.

~ David McNeely

Comment on ways you have used your mobility to serve others!