My summer camp experiences have come to a close so I will be chronicling some lessons and/or insights I gathered. I am on the road headed to Southern so I have limited writing time which is why I am sharing a video today, but my last two stories can be found here and here and here.
"Aren't you excited to go back to camp?" I hesitate to respond so my friend Andrew continues, "Well, I know I am. I can't wait to get back to preaching and hanging out; I miss it so much." He continues to talk about his excitement and his plans as chaplain for when he gets back. I smile. His excitement is infectious.
We were in Los Angeles for the weekend because one of our close friends was getting married. It was exciting to be there, but we were also restless. We knew we had higher responsibilities that we were not doing; we both knew we needed to get back. And it's not like I didn't want to be back working at camp. It's just that my answer was more complicated than a simple "yes," and sometime ago, I decided that I would pursue honesty as much as possible—hence the reason I hesitated to respond.
I was excited to be back among the people at summer camp. I knew I missed the children; the week when we left, I had met some of my favorite campers: a group of Indian boys who openly made fun of their Indian-ness and intentionally spoke in thick Indian accents. I missed the camp. But my response was complicated because unlike Andrew, I had discovered that my job, although in harmony with my passions, was not harmonized with my calling. And for that reason, I toiled in a way that my friend did not understand.
There is this little sermonette inside the YouTube world where Mark Driscoll preaches a message that has dramatically changed my life. The video is titled, Pursue Your Calling Not Your Potential. And although I usually find myself at odds with Mark Driscoll's Reformed theology and methods, I had no critique of his praxis message in the video. For a long time, I only thought of myself in terms of potential. What could I do with the potential I had and with the passions I had? Even as I was interested in ministry, I still considered my life choices based on the potential gain and success I could achieve.
If my preaching or counseling or administration was affirmed, I would wonder what positions I could achieve by exploring the potential in my passions and allow that to color my ambitions and choices.
That train of thought has run into a problem as I explored my passion with cameras. I love cameras and what they can do with photography and film. I have some potential to develop, and I have been sought to help in amateur/student projects and jobs with different organizations. And that's been a lot of fun and it has helped me develop my craft, but this past summer I realized that cameras are not my calling.
Cameras and all that they can do, however wonderful and interesting it is to me, are not my calling.
And so I realized that it is time to pursue the calling of God on my life and allow that to filter the jobs and roles I take on. I'm sure God has no problem with my camera play. But if I allow myself to get so busy with things that I'm passionate about, but are not necessarily my calling? I could see how the Spirit might take an issue with that. And I don't know, if I were an agent of darkness, I would find it much easier to weigh down a well-meaning Christian by making him or her busy with lots of good things that are not the call of God than to try to induce them into outright rebellion.
I believe it was good and healthy and holy for me to serve as the camera guy at camp this summer.
But I also believe it will be good and healthy and holy for me to recognize that I will be best fit for future ministry work, if I pursue the passions that God has called me to develop.
"I am excited," I finally told Andrew. I am excited to get back to the kids and to the staff, and to help them all out. But you have to remember, you're a chaplain. You get to preach and teach the Word of God. And as much as I'm passionate about the camera work, I've just started to realize that it's not the best work for me. Andrew nods in understanding.
"Well, you're doing a good job, bro so don't get too down on yourself."
"Thanks, it's fun to make videos and make kids laugh" I say. But I don't just want to do a good job for the Lord; I want to do my best, and this summer has taught me where I can do my best and where I cannot.