Lesson Learned Series
“Watch your Words”
By: Brent Carl

I have this little problem that has haunted me for years. It’s a problem that has gotten me into lots of trouble. I used to think that it was just a problem of immaturity, you know when I grow up to that magical age of “whatever”, it will go away.

The older I get though, the more I realize that it’s not a matter of physical and emotional immaturity it’s more a matter of spiritual immaturity.

You see, my problem is that I often say the first thing that comes to my mind, and even though I can come off as witty and clever at times. There are other times where the statement forms right about at the top of my cranium, and like a bolt of lightning flashes down to the tip of my tongue, and if I’m not careful before I know what’s happening, boom…the statement is out there, flapping in the breeze!

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Now, I’m not talking about vulgar language or curse words, no that’s never been an issue with me…I’m talking more about other kinds of statements that usually come from a situation that I’ve seen in my lifetime that seems to fit the current situation that I am experiencing and takes place in a split second flash back that seems to play in my mind like a high definition flat screen, surround sound personal movie theatre. It could be lines from movies, TV shows, songs or whatever.

The only problem is that without a spiritual check, the thing that I say next could either be hurtful or uplifting.

As a Youth Pastor it is very important that I watch what I say and how I say it, because the students I work with look up to me and respect what I say.

Well, one time when my little problem became a big problem was when I was newly into Youth Ministry. I was brand new at my church, and of course, wanted my students to actually like me, want to be around me (good goal), and plug into our ministry.

The incident in question took place at an amusement park event about 1 month into my new ministry.

The students were all riding rides, spending money and having a good time at the park. It was a beautiful day. I had just visited the Italian sausage and Funnel cake vendor and was getting ready to nestle into a comfy park bench to enjoy my delicacies, when all of a sudden I heard a screech filled yet muffled cry of “Pastor Brent, Pastor Brent” emanating off in the distance, but getting louder as it came towards me.

I looked up to see one of the girls from my new youth group running across the park with her hands cupped over her nose, tears flowing down her cheeks, and her voice crying “Pastor Brent, Pastor Brent, I think I broke my nose!”

Now maybe it was the glare of the sun, maybe it was the way she was crying, or maybe it was the slow motion flowing of her auburn hair in the breeze, I’m not sure, but whatever it was I had a flashback in my mind to the Brady Bunch.

Remember the scene where the boys are tossing the football in the back yard? They are having a great old time playing catch and all of a sudden there is an overthrow at the exact same time that Marcia opens the sliding glass door and walks onto the porch. What happens next has been etched into my brain for decades, yet in a split second I recalled what happened like it was yesterday.

The ball hits Marcia right square in the nose, and what she says next is a classic Brady quote, that would have been fine if it stayed in the TV, and not morphed itself onto my tongue and then into my current situation.

Marcia screams out with all her pain filled TV sitcom might and says “Oh no now I’ll never be a teen model!”

Yep, you guessed it…here I am brand new youth Pastor, brand new group, brand new opportunities to share God’s love with my teens, and when face to face with a situation to put my Youth Pastor school skills to work, I blow it!

Come to find out she and her boyfriend were in the house of mirrors, and apparently were going to fast through it, and POW! She ran right into a mirror and broke her nose. She and her boyfriend were standing in front of me waiting for me to do my thing…you know be an encourager, call the doctor, pray for healing, share my funnel cake etc. Any and all of those responses would’ve been just great in that circumstance.

Anything except for what I did next. She came running across the park yelling “Pastor Brent, Pastor Brent I think I broke my nose”, I had a flash back to the Brady Bunch, and before her boyfriend could say “is that Italian Sausage?”, I said “OH NO, NOW YOU”LL NEVER BE A TEEN MODEL!”

Yep, you heard me, that’s what I said, and in a split second, I went from well respected new Youth Pastor to unbelievably insensitive jerk! To the girls anyway…the guys (including her boyfriend) thought that was the funniest thing they had ever heard! I went from new guy earning his spot on the respect chain to instant classic right to the top!

The next six months were very interesting in our ministry, as every girls in 3 counties hated me, and every guy in the same geographical area couldn’t get enough of what our ministry was doing…word spread like wildfire, our ministry was growing and growing (among the male population), and girls avoided us like the plague!

To quote another famous line, “Regrets, I’ve had a few” (see there I go again), I couldn’t believe it! What had I just done? I felt terrible.

I don’t know about you but regrets, dumb mistakes and poor choices have always been used by the enemy to distract me from what I know God wants me to do. You see that same quick wit that has gotten me into trouble over the years, has also been used of God to encourage and share the good news of God’s love with tons of people.

I guess it come down to a choice, a choice between using our “gifts” for God’s glory or our glory.

I’m constantly learning that I need to check my motives, thoughts, and priorities, so that my words are words of encouragement that flow from the overflow of God’s Word in my heart, and not just obscure quotes and lyrics from pop-culture.

God’s Word is true, and when I listen to His voice, I can never go wrong!
Lesson Learned

Brent Carl – Youth Ministry International
Vice President of Training Operations
Youth Ministry International is a missions organization that specializes in providing training and resources for Youth Leaders worldwide.
Brent is a 20 year youth ministry veteran who loves to teach, preach, train and engage with students and those who work with them.
He is currently lining up speaking engagements for 2009-2010.
Brent writes two different series of articles on youth ministry.
Lesson Learned” – Is a series of articles for Youth Leaders that chronicles some things he has learned as a veteran Youth Pastor that will encourage them as they continue to help students navigate through the confusing messages they get hit with every day.
“YMinsights” – A series of articles taken from his international trips that focus on spiritual insights and challenges that cause us to pause and praise God for His goodness.”
If you would like more information on Brent and Youth Ministry International please contact him at brent@ymionline.com visit his blog at www.ninetyseventhree.com or check out what YMI is all about at www.youthministryinternational.com
Brent and his wife Bonnie, and 2 children live in Rochester, NY.

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