A couple months ago I was reading the collected writings of Mike Yaconelli. It’s a fantastic, yet easy must read that reminds me why I loved this guy and why he’s one of the few people that I look to as one of my personal heroes, despite the fact that I never got to meet him face to face (and I never seem to be able to spell his last name correctly). There are many people I have and do admire, but very few that I actually see as a personal hero. I think even my closest friends would be surprised who’s not on the list while Yac is. If you aren’t familiar with him, he had clarity and passion for his faith and life, the skills to start an organization like Youth Specialties, and yet the spiritual maturity and humility to be able to pastor what he called the slowest growing church in the country. Each year I try to watch the only video of him that I have and I try to read one of his few books that aren’t specifically about doing youth ministry.

As I was reading his collected writings I came across the phrase, “playfully irreverent.” Playfully irreverent, that described Yac and it used to describe me. Then I became a pastor and despite the fact that Jesus says we are supposed to be like children, Paul tells us to put away childish things. Evidently playful irreverence is one of those things, or at least the easily offended seem to think so. However I’m not so sure. Because when I see Yac I see someone who had clarity, who had a lot better handle on the things that really matter, and that playful irreverence seemed to let him take his faith seriously and at the same time cause less hurt that the seriously reverent folks I’ve come across.

So, maybe the childish things that need to be put away are actually pride, ego, the need to convince others that I’m right and force them to come around to my point of view, lack of emotional maturity to get beyond being easily offended, the need for others to like me and all the ways I hide who I really am in order to gain their favor, the fear of how offending someone will negatively impact my future (which is actually nothing less than a lack of faith in God) and the fear of criticism that forces me to hide my playful irreverence that kills faith, dwindles hope, keeps me from loving well. This fear steals joy and keeps us from experiencing God more fully.

So, playfully irreverent, I’m not as good at it as I used to be, but hopefully I’ll be regaining that. It’s not so much who I am as what I want to be.
Blog posts – not for the easily offended. Forgive me when I get too serious, I’m working on it.

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