God flipped the script and I’m totally grateful for his plan.

REJ traffic lights

by Lars Rood

This has been an interesting and awesome season for me. After almost 20 years working in mega church youth ministries it became time for a change. I wish I could say that it was just God and I that figured out that change but the truth is that other people helped me recognize the need to. As my career went I found myself moving to bigger and bigger churches. With each move came more and more management responsibilities and large programmatic oversight. For many years I was able to manage things and keep all the plates spinning but finally my amazing boss helped show me that plates were starting to fall. That started a really great year of discernment and identity questioning that was so healthy. I am was super blessed because I was at a church that loved me, believed in me and wanted to help me live into my “true identity.” Presbyterian pastors go through a pretty incredible amount of testing before we are ordained. We do personality profiles, conflict management surveys and even psychological exams. Well, I went through all that again (the previous time was 16 years ago) and the results were confirming that there were other things that God had gifted me in that I should explore.

This is where it gets interesting though. As I began to search out possibilities God began to show up and continually shut doors. I had thought that on the strength of my resume, education, and network I would have had no problem quickly finding something and moving into it. But, it didn’t quite work that way. God used a longer process to refine me and teach me who I am. And that process is still going on.

One thing that has been a blast though and I know was a part of God’s plan is that I was asked to be the “Interim part‐time Summer Youth Director” at a small church with only about 10 students total in the youth group. So different from what I was used to but also very much like the group I grew up in. This summer has been amazing. I did a mission trip with seven students. I hosted adventure night events where we could simply drive my car because I had enough seat belts. I taught Sunday school often to only a couple of students. What I realized during this time was that I loved the opportunity to be in relationship with students again. Gone was the staff leadership, program management, meeting after meeting. In it’s place was just me, the gifts God gave me, and the opportunity to go deeper with a group of students. The best part honestly was the laughter. I found myself experiencing joy again. The kind of joy that came from simply being myself and not trying to be what I thought everyone expected me to be.

I’m still looking for a new role. Doing something that uses my gifts of networking, connecting, and being a visionary. But, I also know that regardless of what position I find to pay the bills I need to also feed my soul and be doing what I know God has gifted me to do – which is be relational with a small group of students. My prayer is that things work out in a way that will allow me to become a small group leader for a group of boys and stay with them all the way till they graduate.

This process has been humbling, but in the best way it could be. I’ve still had the opportunity to speak at some big camps and my books are selling well. I know that I’m having an influence beyond the small group I’m leading but if I’ve learned anything through this process I am meant to do both.

You can find more info about me at www.larsrood.com and all of my books are on Amazon.

Lars Rood

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