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Articles | Discipleship
Rick Lawrence

Rick (rlawrence@group.com and @RickSkip on Twitter) has been editor of GROUP Magazine for 26 years. He’s author of the just-released book Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (simplyyouthministry.com). He wrote the books Sifted (www.siftedbook.com) and Shrewd (www.shrewdbook.com) and the upcoming Skin In the Game (2015) as an excuse to immerse himself in the presence of Jesus.

 

Ever had someone believe in you more than you believe in yourself?

Or, even deeper, ever had someone invest inexplicable belief in who you are and what you can do?

Several years ago I wrote a book called Sifted. I’ve written many books over the years, but this was my first attempt to write something for a wider readership than the youth ministry community. That means every aspect of my journey, from empty page to finished manuscript, felt dangerously vulnerable. I’ve never been more simultaneously alive and afraid in my life.

So you can imagine what it was like to turn that manuscript in to an editor and then wait for his feedback. In that liminal space, your response expectation is measured first in minutes, then in hours, then in days, and then (almost intolerably) in weeks. And when the weeks rolled-up into a full month the silence, as writer George Barzan first declared, “was deafening.”

Silence in our feedback loop makes the “soil” of our soul rich for growing the destructive narratives that haunt our lives. Destructive narratives are the obvious and diabolical lies that nevertheless seem powerfully plausible to us, and require very little pretext before they gain traction in us…

• Maybe I’m hearing nothing because the book is that bad—he’s embarrassed to have to tell me the bad news.

• Maybe I’m hearing nothing because the book is so full of holes that it’s taking him forever to mark all the corrections.

• Maybe I’m hearing nothing because I never should’ve attempted something so clearly beyond my abilities.

• Maybe I’m hearing nothing because the deepest things I have to give are…an embarrassment.

When the response finally came, it was impossibly brief, given the weight I’d loaded onto my waiting. It showed up in my inbox on December 8, 2010—I know this because I’ve kept it in my “save forever” file…

“I should have your manuscript back to you by next Friday—I just finished another read and, man, it’s the cleanest manuscript I’ve ever edited here (so there will be precious few edits) and it contains the strongest message of all the books I’ve ever worked on…I’ll be proud to see it come to pass (no, I’m not blowing up your skirt).”

After I cleared my tears, I read and re-read that note—just like B. Raymond Buxton, the California man who sat in front of his computer for hours checking and re-checking the numbers after he discovered they matched a $425 million PowerBall prize. To a soul braced to hear the worst, my editor’s words were like a found-fortune.

And just like the surreal feeling Mr. Buxton must have had, sitting there wide-eyed and gape-mouthed in front of his computer, it’s hard to accept our impossible reality when someone we trust expresses inexplicable belief in who we are. It’s a game-changer. Today, on the precipice of another high school graduation season, it’s time to change the game for a group of kids who’ll never journey with you like this again. It’s your golden opportunity to invest “inexplicable belief” in the students you’ve walked alongside for so long.

What if you…

• asked Jesus to give you a word of inexplicable belief for each of them, then made a point to share that word face-to-face, followed by a card that includes a couple of sentences describing why that word is so true?

• showed up at their graduation ceremony and held up a statement of inexplicable belief as each one turns to the audience?

• showed up at a few graduation parties, asked if you could have a moment with both the graduate and his/her parent(s), then offered your inexplicable belief in the student, in the company of “witnesses”?

• planned a series of “coffee meetings” with each of your graduates, where you gave them each a framed copy of your handwritten inexplicable beliefs about them?

Whatever you do, don’t miss this chance to be a conduit for the relentless, ridiculous, and inexplicable love of Jesus in your graduates’ lives…

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