Even When You Change, You Remain Who You Are.

For those of you that peruse my sidebar from time to time – there’s a special column there. It’s called Thinkers. The reality is most of those folks, I consider to be friends regardless, but usually their blogposts are thoughts worth considering, whether in regards to faith, faith in praxis, music, travelling, people, community. They are my must-reads. I’ve posted them in a truly random order. They are diverse enough to engage my brain in the way it ought to be, not all regular bloggers although some are ‘dailies’.

whyismarko.com was formerly ysmarko. I decided I wouldn’t delete Marko’s site from the sidebar because I think it contains some of the most forward thinking youth ministry/faith in praxis content around. For the time of his tenure as Youth Specialties President and blogger, this site has been one of the most accessible points of conversation that I regularly participated and observed.

Which brings me to the point – that even when you change, you remain who you are. When I finished in my role with Eastercamp, it forced a point of clarification in my own identity. What changed was the outlet of my knowledge, passion and praxis. I didn’t cease to be interested, experienced, knowledgeable or a continual learner in my field. It was simply the outlet that changed.

I count it as an honour to call Marko and others in the YS family, true friends. People that I deeply care about and respect. There are folks that work here that you’d never see teaching a Lab or writing books (yet) who truly care about young people, those that work with young people and the current/future state of this praxis we call Church. So, in all the things that are changing and may change.. my hope and secure belief is that you remain who you are.

I’m still really good at being me – in all the varied expressions that I create around that. And Marko remains a prophetic voice in youth ministry. That matters, because we’re a tribe of people not just an organization. And likewise, there is every hope that YS the organization can remain an organization completely committed to loving and serving youthworkers.

I had to remember that I had eternal permission to remain who I was. Others had given me a title and credibility to work within their organization, but ultimately that was simply an expression of the much bigger picture that the Father always had in mind. I’m not necessarily a believer in Plan A, Plan B and Plan C. I think that God enjoys the ongoing creativity of making something beautiful out of our lives as we go, hand in hand. However, sometimes in life, people will change your position or role, the expression of who you are may change. Sometimes people will want that to mean you cease to be who you are. Those voices should be gladly ignored.

I’ve never quite got back to blogging or writing in the same way since ‘my contract was not renewed’. It’s been a conscious choice to not want to slight or discolour what was a magical, wonderful, awful time in my life. Sometimes I regret that, because I now think, I should have remained feisty enough to fight for my character and my good name, despite how others were gently and publicly shaming me. But therein, lies the lesson of remaining who you are.

I’m glad Marko’s back to blogging, simply because I think the expression of who he is continues to remain important and beautiful in our world.

Back home, we have a word called ‘mana’. It means a form of respect, authority, stature that cannot be easily bestowed on another. Some people simply have a presence, that gives them permission to speak and a voice that rises above others. Mana is something that can be credited to you by the elders and members of your tribe, but it cannot be attained, if you know what I mean. Reach for it and it will slip from your grasp. Aspire to it and you will learn humility and service.

Mana, is exactly what it means to remain who you are, despite how things may change. So, I hope for Marko, as much as myself – that his ongoing expression brings something rich, deep and necessary to our lives.

Both organizations and tribes require leaders, but the way that comes about is vastly variant. Tribes tend to choose leaders for certain seasons, but also hold an enormous capacity for elders and ambassadors within the collective knowledge of the tribe. That’s why tribal gatherings still reference those who have gone before us and remember with fondness their words. Tribes have a much greater capacity to hold broad spectrums of ideas, to wrestle with ongoing ideas and issues whilst seeking greater practical application.

Possibly this is why we must be so careful with the business models and leadership lessons we chose to apply in Church, because we naturally are more tribe-like in our existence. We compel ourselves to organizational structure because we view some form of necessity in it, to which end we may be right, but it is not easy for us.

Tribal behaviour is the proof in the pudding, of how even when we change, we remain who we are. My hope for the future of YS is in this tribal identity, held by a collective of people who hold a spectrum of time, ideas and voices in valuable tension.

What do you think?