I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile, but no matter how I word it it has seemed awkward and weird to rank friendships. So, as you read this, please don’t see this as a ranking of my friends. If you do see it that way and comment on it as such, I’ll quickly create a new list of my top 5 enemies, and put you on it! Ha.
The last 18 months have been quite exciting, I’m so thankful to God for the people he has had me interact with, and a number of those interactions have led to friendship and a lot of my previous acquaintances or loose friendships have turned into bona fide friendships.
The Criteria: I am listing my top five friendships that have been created by my role with Youthmark, or at minimum the acquaintanceships that have moved to genuine friendships because of the role. My apologies in advance to the scores of people who should be on the list that I was too lame to remember right now…(there, I just revealed my fear in creating this list)…
Without further ado, the list.
Honorable Mentions: This is the list that could go on forever, seeing as how there are plenty of Youth Pastors whom I now consider friends that I had not even met 18 months ago. I think of guys like Rob in TX whom I just think the world of. Oh, who could forget Jimmy in Hawaii? Mike and Wes here in Western WA or how about Josh in CA? This guy was so much fun to scout the Gulf with. I could include a ton of people that I am forming friendships with as well, but the lines between Youthmark and networking begin to get skewed…
Four: Alan. Though Alan has not done a YMV with me… yet, he was one of the first guys I got to sit with last year to begin to share the vision. In a sense he was one of my first “cold calls.” We met for coffee and he was going through… well, a lot at his church and in life at the time. We spent a lot of time talking about life and ministry before a family emergency called him away. Like I said, we haven’t connected on a Youthmark level yet, but God has blessed me and us (the Aabys) with new friends. We have gotten together a couple times as couples; Alan’s wife Sarah is a sweetheart and we look forward to our next time together with them.
Three: Joe. Though I had met him at a camp that I was the speaker for and he was the worship leader, our friendship has really formed through the Youthmark Missions Spring Retreats. It is a privilege to have Joe secured for all seven of the Spring Retreats in the Spring of 2010. He is a gifted worship leader who has the ability to hear the Spirit moving and not get in the way. Beyond worship leading, he is a great daddy and husband. I look forward to forming a friendship with more of his family–I know his Dad, a great man of God too! Joe was also one of two MAJOR inspirations for me getting in shape. Joe has lost a lot of weight in the last year… and has yet to find it. I’m hoping mine can’t be found either!
Two: Jess. Don’t know if I can be friends with Jess anymore, he has left Youth Ministry and become a Senior Pastor. I know, what was he thinking? Well, the good news, he has moved from Snohomish to Renton. I may have lost him in terms of the direct relationship with Youthmark for a season, but I now get to office with him (we are often at the same coffee shop). He and Alisha (and kids) live just a few minutes away; may the family times begin! Jess is big encouragement, a man of God who believes in prayer! I love that and find it a blessing/privilege to pray for him. Jess and I have known each other for a few years, but it was his “Lead” role with Youthmark that really put us into our growing friendship.
One: Aaron. We’ve been running in the same Youth Ministry circles for about 10 years. The first eight-and-a-half we did a pretty good job of knowing of each other more than we knew each other. That’s too bad, we have a lot of catching up to do now. This is a man of God whom I have much respect for. First, I love his honesty that is so mixed with quick wit–quite simply, Aaron can go from dead-serious to dropping in a good one-liner that you won’t get until you’re at home on your couch and you finally get it! I love that. He is a man who loves his family (he and Heather have six great kids). He is a guy who loves his work and is a great Youth Pastor. When I say great, understand I mean it. I have seen a lot of Youth Pastors, Aaron is in the top 5% for sure! Praise God. Aaron is a faithful friend, not a week goes by without a word of encouragement or a text of humor! We share life together, this is fun. Oh, and last, he is one of Youthmark’s biggest fans. Seriously, he’s like 6’4″.
I love what Youthmark has afforded me in terms of friendships. It seemed a little silly to “rank” these friendships, and that was not the point at all, the point was to be encouraged and to be encouraged by these friendships and many others!
Hebrews tells us to encourage one another all the more as we see the day approaching. These are all people who encourage me greatly. Who is encouraging you? Who are you encouraging?