Saturday, August 1, 2009
Awards That Really Matter
This has become even more evident to me in the past nine months. During this time I have been recognized for three major awards by three different institutions. The regional body of my denomination honored me with an evangelism award for leading my church to excel in the areas of outreach and evangelism. The seminary that I recently graduated from with a doctor’s degree in administration gave me a leadership award, which is the highest award they give to students. Just last week I received yet another award from the national mission board of my denomination for excelling in rural church planting. While I was deeply honored by all three of these awards and I am keenly aware that there are many other equally deserving people, somehow these awards don’t hold the fascination that they once did. I realize that such awards are fleeting. Next year each of those institutions will give those awards to another hard working pastor or student and my name will fade from their institutional memories.
This has caused me to reflect on what the awards are that I am really looking for in life. The day after returning from Atlanta, where I received the third award, I stood in the back of a room filled with over 50 teenagers. The vast majority come from unchurched families. They listened intently for nearly an hour as a speaker explained how God has a plan for our lives and everything we experience happens for a reason. Since that time I have had the opportunity to interact with several of those young adults about what they heard and how it affected them. I had the honor of baptizing six of those teens this past Sunday. I cannot help but think that the greatest award in life is to help a young person discover a meaningful faith in Christ. A plaque or a trophy looks nice on a shelf but has no real long term importance. But touching the life of a young person and helping them make peace with God; this is an award that lasts for eternity. While I am touched to have been honored with various awards over the past nine months, my real awards are the teens the Lord has let me impact for Him.
You can come to my office and gaze at the three awards if you want to, but when you get there, you will most likely find me at my kneeling bench praying for my greatest trophies, which are: Taylor, Jonas, Brian, Leo, Lucas, Tucker, Emma, Zack D., Angel, Alex, Gabe, Matt, Tawny, Trey, Mara, Rose, Marshall, Brett, Chrissie, Jesse, Shane, Jayla, Becca, Kelsey, Philip H., Cameo, Kate R, Nick D, Jon C., Faith, Logan, Tayvia, Virgil, Brock, Matt, Jasmine, Andrew, Phil L, Zack L, Katelyn, Ashley, Kyle, Matty, Leah, Hogan, David K, Cody, Lizzy, Mindy, Michaela, Heather, Alex D, Trevor, Bridgett, Justin B, Jared, Brea, Calvin, Katrina, Carolyn, Brittany R, Marissa, Chris L, Bree, Aubre, and Alyssa. And every week the Lord adds more names to the list, for the fields are white unto the harvest. O Lord, may I be faithful in shepherding these young hearts toward You! May my focus be on winning them and not on winning earthly awards.