Recently I've been feeling like it's taken me 7 years in San Diego to just get some of my own ministry to a place I can build on and develop some mediocre sense of tradition.
While the nomadic way has some benefits like new experiences, risks of faith, and uncharted territory; it also comes with a price tag. With new territory comes the frustration of longterm relationships that are now long range by default. Additionally, you have few connections, no traditions, no trust, and no proven track record in your community if you move around a lot. However when you stay somewhere for a decade or three, like my friend Danny Long has in the small town of Jamul, CA.... what you get is an epic reminder that ministry longevity trumps just about everything.
This last weekend I took TJ and joined Danny on a high school ministry canoe trip on the colorado river where Danny and about 100 students and staff floated a 30 mile stretch over two days. Danny has been bugging me for years to come with him and this year I came as the Saturday night speaker and to scout out this experience for our own youth ministry too. (Which btw we are so doing! Dang I had fun with TJ and I think we're going to try and join Thrive and unite for next spring. Can't wait!) Anyway, in the process, I learned that Danny has been on this stretch of river for over 30 years. He started as a kid, then continued as a high school student himself, and now has kept the tradition going for the last 16+ years as a youth pastor.
I've tasted a bit of this myself when I was part of a 20 year run where I ran either attended a summer camp as a high school student, worked in it as an intern, or ran that same camp as a youth pastor in Nor Cal. Powerhouse was full of moments like this that only hindsight can tell you were in part because of growing up in the area and sticking around for over a decade in the role. The last 7 years in San Diego have been an awesome ride, but this weekend was a fresh reminder that so much comes to those who stick around. Time to batten down the hatches folks, I think we're gonna be here for a while.
I was so blessed to join Danny for the weekend, so encouraged by his friendship, so honored to make a memory with TJ, and so amazed at the simple and undeniable joy he is experiencing from ministry fruit that simply is the faithful result of ministry over the long haul. Way to go Danny! You da man!