I used this story of a young writer, from Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant for this week’s newsletter article. Thought I’d post it here as well… with some bonus comments.
The young man longed to be a writer. As he grew up, that’s all he wanted to be. As he prepared to go to college, his mother took him aside, with good intentions, “I know you want to be a writer, but why don’t you become a brain surgeon instead. You’ll keep a lot of people from dying… and you’ll make a lot of money.”
“But mama, I don’t want to be a brain surgeon, I’m a writer.”
This conversation continued for years, in bits and pieces sprinkled over vacation conversations and holiday dinners, always with the same refrain, “You’ll keep a lot of people from dying, and you’ll make a lot of money.” Eventually, the ‘suggestion’ became a little more pointed.
“You’re wasting your time! Why do you insist on this writing business? Be a brain surgeon! You’ll keep a lot of people from dying. You’ll make a lot of money.”
“Mama, I don’t want to keep people from dying, I want to show them how to live!”
Too much religion has settled for keeping people from dying. I’m glad that WestWay is a place that doesn’t stop there. Please pray for our student ministries as we seek to show students how to live. This summer will begin a new phase for Wind and Water Student Ministries that is specifically targeted to show students how to live as disciples of Jesus. Be praying for the students and leaders of our small discipleship groups. May we all know how to truly live!
My family was supportive of my choice to go into youth ministry. Several teachers and counselors at school, however, echoed the words of the mother, “You’re wasting your potential.” After over 10 years of living with the repercussions of that decision, I can honestly say they were wrong. What I’ve chosen is not brain surgery or rocket science. I don’t build bridges or fly airplanes or design great buildings. My name will never appear on some great scholarship endowment or public library. But what I do matters. What I do helps some students know how to live.