July 27, 2010

Extraordinary People

Greetings from the deep end!
There are a few times in a person’s life when, for a brief time, they are paired up with truly extraordinary people. For the past four months I have had that privilege with Shawn Michael Shoup. I have written in past blogs about most of the process of my family and I coming to Rapid City and Destiny foursquare. What I have not written about, until today, is the caring heart and gracious attitude of the man whose position I will be carrying on. I am truly humbled to have spent time with such an extraordinary man. Perhaps a little back story would help the reader understand why I feel this amount of praise is necessary.

At the end of April of this year, I found on the Foursquare website a job opening here in Rapid. I wasn’t sure if Rapid was a place we wanted to go to and I didn’t even tell Pam that I had emailed. It was simply a request for more information. Pastor Brent wrote back that he would like to pursue a relationship with me and Pam to see if God had a plan for all of us. Things progressed. One day I opened Facebook to see that Shawn had invited me to be a friend. Knowing that Shawn was the current Youth Minister I didn’t know what to expect. I accepted the friend request and one way or another Shawn and I began a Facebook email dialogue. Shawn was open and honest in answering my questions about the staff at Destiny, about the youth program here and about the town in general. He never hesitated to give me advice and opportunity to find support and to grow as a youth minister. This was all before Pam and I had our first meeting with Pastors Brent and Tani Parker.

It was obvious to me that Shawn cared very much for his youth kids and wanted to make sure that they were well taken care of in his absence. It was also quite evident that Shawn had a heart for encouraging, networking with and training youth pastors. Over the next weeks, Pam and I had the chance to talk at length with the Parkers and were invited to come to Rapid to visit the church, meet some of the people and get a feel for the Rapid/Destiny situation.

I met Shawn in person first thing the morning after we arrived. I came to the church early for music practice as I was to play the acoustic guitar that morning. Shawn was the first person I saw. We were dressed in like fashion. Both in black button up shirts, jeans and fashionable footwear. We are both very stylish men. That is to say, we both have wives that make us look good. He introduced himself and helped me get set up for music. Meeting with him that day was not an uncomfortable experience. He was not aggressive towards me. He was not hostile as some men would be when faced with the person who could possibly be the one to carry on the work that he had spent over nine years building. Shawn was humble and friendly. That in itself is worth all of the praise I could give to a man, however, my story is not yet complete. In fact, Shawn and I had only begun our time together.

That Tuesday, Pam and I had not yet been hired but we were feeling more and more that this is where God was leading us, I found myself in Shawn’s office. That morning, instead of spending his time doing what he usually did on a Tuesday morning, he spent the time we had showing me how to be a better youth pastor in Sheridan. He introduced me to Twitter and the networking system that opens up. He introduced me to a myriad of online services for youth ministers and he started handing me tangible resources off of his wall. Shawn had no such obligations to me at this point, but as mentioned earlier, Shawn’s heart is for the mentoring and building up of youth ministers so they can better build up their students so that in the end, God be glorified.

That Wednesday we were offered and accepted the position at Destiny. From that day on, I do not believe that there was a single day when Shawn and I were not in communication about one thing or another, from his youth kids and their needs to how the Destiny youth program is run to how to better utilize online programs and applications so that I could be a better minister for my youth kids in Sheridan and for the Destiny kids when I arrived. For four months Shawn has been dedicated to helping prepare me for the trials set before me.

The last month of my life, my first month in Rapid, was spent working in tandem with Shawn. Not many people would be comfortable training their successor. They would feel threatened by the presence of the new guy. If Shawn felt this way he had the grace and patience to not show it but rather to become my friend. Over the last four weeks Shawn and I have worked and sweated next to each other. We made phone calls and emails and texts and Twitter direct messages to each other at all hours of the day and night so that we as a team could better serve the youth of Destiny Forusquare.

Today and tomorrow as Shawn and his family leave Rapid City to pursue the new adventures God has placed before them, I feel sad. My friend is moving away, and I will miss him. Not many predecessors have the integrity and personality that would make the person coming in not want them to leave. It is with this blog that I share my feelings towards one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known. I believe that I will end with this, I believe it is fitting. It is a quote from Pastor Scott in Sheridan, his signature farewell:

Grace, mercy and peace to you and your family, my friend. 

1 comment:

  1. Just read through this again. Boy, you're making me tear up!