I wonder why people often hold me to a greater level of responsibility, why they get disappointed in me when I don't live to certain expectations, while claiming they're, “Only human,” when they mess up? My mission in life is to destroy the myth that young people have nothing to say and nothing to contribute to the body of Christ. I'm a firm believer that we can learn from one another. The brevity and certainty of life has nothing to do with how many years I've lived, but have everything to do with how I lived with the years I've got.

by Neil Brown

I used to think that preachers were the craziest people on Earth, until I became one. Why do you constantly keep praying and ministering and preaching and hoping for people who really seem like they don't want to be bothered? And when God called me to the ministry, that's exactly what I asked Him, “...Why?” Why can't somebody else go? Why can't you use Brother Over There who needs the call more than I do? Why can't You use Sister That Everybody Loves? “Because, I want you", He said. You have unique giftings and abilities that will be an asset to me in the very near future. That was January 1994. By July of that year, I was sitting in a service at New Life Church of all places when He spoke to me again at the altar call that evening.

All He said was, “Your time is drawing near, get ready for work.” And suddenly, the Word of God opened up to me like never before. I began hearing preaching and teaching in my own voice, but I didn't want to do it, and I sho'nuff didn't want to hear it.

But, soon, God began to get on my nerves. It was kind of like that movie, “Ghost” when the Patrick Swayze character began singing “Henry the Eighth” over and over to get Whoopi to help him with his mission once he realized that he had been murdered. That's what God was doing to me, murdering my will so that His could become a reality in my life. And in November, I stopped struggling and yielded. One of the best things I ever did. But I remember thinking how awesome a task was now before me. To not only live the Gospel, but to also carry the Gospel. And I began to understand that in order for me to carry the gospel, I had to live it. I knew that I couldn't just put my hand on the plow and if it didn't work go back. Once I said yes, I knew it was for the rest of my life.

I hate to admit it, but I struggle.

I struggle with self-esteem. I continually feel that I am not good enough. I regularly feel like I'm damaged goods. Like at the grocery store when you see a canned good, you pick it up and realize that it has all of those dents in it. That stuff that you only see when you take a closer look. And because it has flaws, you put it back on the shelf. Why do we put it back on the shelf? Is it because we feel like the stuff inside the can is damaged also? That, because the can has blemishes, it affects what's inside? Isn't what's inside still good? Could it be that the damaged metal exterior on the outside just protected the stuff on the inside? This sounds crazy, but that how I feel sometimes, like the damaged can.
Have I been hurt? Yes.

Have I felt tormented by my own personal demons? Yes.

Do I feel like people are taking a closer look at me? Yes.

Do I feel like I should keep people back so that they won't be exposed to my frailties? Yes.

My greatest pains happened to me in church. You are reading this right, my greatest pains happened to me in church. Among like-minded people, spiritual people, people with damage of their own. It happened to me in the safe haven of church.

I wonder why people often hold me to a greater level of responsibility in this walk, when we all have to walk? I wonder why people get disappointed in me when I don't live up to certain expectations. After all, whose expectations am I supposed to meet— theirs or God's? And when I become disappointed in them, why do they act like they're, “Only human,” and that they're supposed to mess up? Very confusing sometimes...

I want people to understand that the way of the Christian walk is not not a social one for Sunday afternoon tea, but, rather that it is a lifestyle. It is not a hobby, as a friend repeatedly tells me. When you see me at Wal-Mart, I'm in lifestyle. When you see me at the movies, I'm in lifestyle. When you see me buying groceries, I'm in lifestyle. When you see me at church during the week, I'm in lifestyle. When you see me shout in the Spirit in worship service, I'm thankful for my lifestyle because I know I'm not changing it for you or anybody else.

And, even though I struggle, I am learning how to be completely content in all my present situations. For greater is He that is in me, than He that is in the world.

Neil M. Brown
30 November 2003

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