Thank Your Shepherd | Find Your Sheep: The Austin Story

Y’ALL.

I realized that, about 3 weeks ago, I planned a blog which included a disclaimer that I was going to be posting some *different* stuff over the next few weeks & to either bear with me, or let me know that you love the different stuff.

And of course, that blog hasn’t been posted yet.  Writers, have you ever been writing anything and it comes to the moment where everything is supposed to get way interesting, like, Act 1 is great, you’re getting in your stride in Act 2, and here comes Act 3 -- like the moment your profound thought turns from just some thoughts into something relatable to your readers that you pray will change their lives forever -- and you’re having paragraph constipation?  I know. Gross. But it’s an on-point metaphor because both things are annoying, painful, and make you doubt your ability to do things you consider should be easy for humans to accomplish.

Anyway, that blog post is stuck in Act 3. And so my disclaimer never went out.

So, hey, Fam, I’m going to be posting some different things over the next few weeks. Let me know if you love them. If you hate them keep that negativity to yourself. I’ll be posting more often than normal! Yay! So check back regularly.

Onto the actual post...


Today is an encouragement and a challenge. Back when I was in high school, and a baby Christian, one of my new group of “Christian friends” was Austin. He was in my same grade, and he was sort of the glue that held our group together. As a new Christian, I didn’t know what I was doing a lot of the time, and a lot of stuff flew right past me that I didn’t understand, but I always saw in him positivity, energy, and hope. Now, of course, I know that was the Holy Spirit, but back then I didn’t really understand all that. I just knew that whatever he had, I wanted that.

I barely made it to youth group every week so the first time I ever had to go up to the church outside of church hours, I was *astounded* to find Austin there, volunteering his time. Wait a minute. People come up to the church when church isn’t going on??!!! This blew my 16-year-old-and-saved-for-4-months mind.

His friendship, along with my other christian friends, were positive, life-giving, and non-judgemental. They helped me seek out to cultivate christian friendships when I moved away after I graduated.

Fast-forward about five years, and I am sitting in our young adult service and listening to a message about building others up. The person giving the message gave us a challenge: 1. Be an example to someone. 2. That someone who was an example to you -- reach out to them and say thank you.

So in the early, early days of Facebook messenger, I track down Austin and message him. I tell him I’m still in church, and when I was really young in the faith, his example helped guide me in the right direction, and I really appreciated it!  He had never known the impact he had on me. He sent me back the most wonderful and heartfelt reply to say thanks.

Now, it’s crazy to me to think about:

  1. How dumb I was. Cuz yall I was dumb. Bless my heart.

  2. How Austin, this 16 year old kid, never knew that his peers were watching him, admired him, and he was leading other people towards Jesus. When he was 16!! That’s the power of the gospel for those who will just live it out, no matter how old they are or where they are! He was just living his dang life, with no idea he is actually setting an example and direction for other people to look up to, and pointing them towards Jesus.

  3. Austin became a pastor and he is continuing the life of shepherding others to the gospel. I think that’s AMAZING, and right in the same breath, I realize that the skills he’s exercising while he’s leading people to God, he cultivated there when he was 16, up at the church when no one else was, doing whatever he could to help out.

 

That, y’all, is a witness.

Now, here’s the same challenge:

  1. THANK YOUR SHEPHERD. Find someone who was/has been an example for you in your Christian walk, and you’ve never told them, and TELL THEM. Call them, text them, message them, write them a hand-written note. Post a comment below with who you’re telling, and update it with the results. (Can you update comments??! IDK. Maybe just post another comment if/when they respond.)

  2. FIND YOUR SHEEP. Be an example for someone. Here is your invitation, permission, challenge to find a new believer and GET IN THEIR LIFE. Squeeze your way in if you have to. A little uninvited? OK. Whatever. Just find some sheep that look lost and shepherd them in the right direction! It’ll be easy -- start with like, 2 people. Contact them regularly and eat with them regularly (weekly? monthly? quarterly? Your call. Just regularly.) Your goal is to pray hard, encourage hard, ask hard (questions).