First of all, thanks to everyone who came along with me on this journey. While I’m writing this before the whole series has been posted, my stat log shows between 30-50 visitors to my site each day viewing this series (Edit: Yesterday we received 300 views and just under 100 individual visitors to the site!!!). I really never expected that when I started writing this. I thought maybe Molly might read it, and that’s it. So for those of you who have been around since Part 1 – thanks for joining and I hope it was as fun for you to read as it was for me to write.
Second, I wanted to take a few moments to tie up some narrative lose ends. This story was about the beginnings of my friendship with Molly and then the evolution of that friendship over time. However, I’m sure the context of the story has brought up some other questions that really went unanswered.
Time in Lafayette
I want to state clearly that I have no regrets about the time I spent at UL, nor do I harbor any ill feelings toward how things ended there. While it wasn’t the outcome I wanted at that time, I believe ultimately that the decision for me to no longer continue in full time campus ministry was (probably) the right one. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have that as a career. And, if I’m honest, I’ve met a lot of knuckleheads who have gone through the same program and were appointed to full time positions. I’d be lying if I didn’t often look at some of those guys and think that guy made it?? I got thrown out but that guy made it???
A lot of that, I know, is pride, and maybe that’s exactly why they are where they are and I’m were I am.
There have been times where I’ve been tempted to think my time in Lafayette was just a waste of a year. This was especially true in those early years. The fact that I ended back up at South Central Planning about two and a half years later – in the same job but at a lower rate of pay – really made me question why I left in the first place. If I had stayed at South Central Planning after college and just continued in the job, and I had that option at that time, perhaps I would have advanced further in my career and faster.
However, had I never gone to Lafayette, it is very unlikely I would have ever met Molly. It is also equally unlikely that our friendship would have developed if not for that proximity – even if we had met. And in addition to Molly (and honestly, she alone would be enough) – I met many other amazing people and had a great time. Some of these people have been and will be life-long friends. Others were friends only for a season and I’ve lost touch. But each added value to my life, and for that I’m thankful.
My Time in Vacherie and the End of Vocational Ministry
I really passed over this one quickly in the series. That was intentional and for narrative purposes. However, it was a very important year in my life. I genuinely loved my time there – mainly from being mentored by that year by Pastor Larry Youngblood.
If I can be honest – I really wasn’t a very good youth pastor, at least not for that setting and context. Sure, I think I did a decent job creating a fun environment for the students. I hope they learned something from me. But, ultimately, our visions on ministry were just … different.
I’ve always been a “small group” guy, and I tried hard to empower the youth in the group to be leaders at their school and try to start their own small groups with their friends, class mates, etc. But, while I had lots of training and practical experience on how to do this at a college campus, I had no idea how to implement this in high school. As such, it really never took off – though I’m sure given enough time I would have figured it out. However, those kids deserved someone who knew what they were doing. They didn’t need to be a learning curve for someone figuring things out.
When I left Vacherie and went back to South Central Planning, it felt like the full-time ministry chapter of my life had really closed. It really was a sad time for me. I really did try hard to succeed and just … didn’t.
It is what it is, though. I think it’s all part of our life journey – to figure out those things we are good at and those areas that we can improve in.
The Post Vocational Ministry Life
While I may no longer be “saving souls” as a job, the last 13 years I’ve spent at South Central Planning has been absolutely incredible. I’ve found a job that I really do excel at. It’s a job, too, where I can make practical, physical improvements to my community and region.
I’ve been able to work directly with Mayors, Parish Presidents, Council people, etc. – and help them implement infrastructure projects. The biggest challenge is just grinding through the time it takes many of these projects to come to fruition. Of note, before I had this job I never would have understood why it takes engineers so long to come up with a so-called simple design, nor why so many projects get stuck in environmental studies. Really, however, with the dollar figures and public scrutiny involved, these professionals really need to get things right. I can always tell when I see a job that was rushed verses one that took time to develop.
Ministry-wise – well, all that training I got has been really useful in just being a regular church member. No, I don’t get paid for that. And that is really okay!!! Since Molly and I have been married, and my ministry job came to a real end, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with lots of great things!
Early on I spent eight years leading a Sunday school class at Thibodaux First Assembly (since re-branded as TFA Church). Only, I didn’t teach it as a traditional Sunday school class, but lead it as a small group. At one point we actually grew so big that we split it up into multiple classes. And from that class came lots of people who later became leaders of their own small groups when TFA first transitioned to that model circa 2015.
At the end of 2015/early in 2016, I stepped down from leading that particular class to focus on leading a class for boys on Wednesday nights. As my kids aged, I really wanted to make sure the classes were run well and consistently. Up to that point, we had some good leaders with the boys, but it was inconsistent. Someone would teach for a year and some for a few months. Sometimes we had no one at all. So, I figured I could do something. It was another Vacherie situation, though, as I had no idea what I was doing. But is has been a ton of fun! Sometimes teaching the class can be very challenging – those boys have lots of energy and very little attention span – but it’s really rewarding.
The 2020 year really changed things up. TFA is no longer having services on Wednesday, but is all-in on small groups, which makes me really excited! I miss seeing the boys every Wednesday, but I’m now volunteering on Sunday mornings to run media for the kids ministry. I also am able to help out once a month for our “Encounter Night” service, at which I get to lead a lesson for the boys once again. Molly and I are also hosting a another small group.
Epilogue to the Epilogue
As stated earlier, while the main story I set out to tell was about the evolution of my friendship with Molly, it’s really intertwined with lots of other things going on in my life that I felt probably deserved a longer explanation. I’m really thankful for how blessed both I and my family have been through these years. I have no idea what the next dozen or so years holds for us – no one really does – but I am really looking forward to seeing what happens.