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52 Godly Men : Men of Today Teaching the Men of Tomorrow » My Journey » Week 51: Lord Of The Ring

Week 51: Lord Of The Ring

Well, over the course of my journey, I’ve met with a whole lot of men I know and see every now and then, but there has been one main guy in particular whom I see every week and haven’t met with yet. That man is my youth pastor. But today, I finally got to see the inner workings of one of the more crazy jobs in this universe, the job of Jared Waldrop, youth pastor. And the craziness can all start with the ringing sound of a phone call.

Jared WaldropDad and I showed up at the church building at nine, and Jared arrived a few minutes afterward. He invited us into his office, gave us a quick rundown of what his day was going to look like (but that doesn’t always happen), and then Dad left. That gave Jared and me a chance to talk and chat a bit. He told me that while he’s doing his job, anything can happen. No two days are the same for him. He can come in with a perfectly reasonable outline of what he’s going to accomplish and get done, and then (like I said) one phone call can totally wreck his day. He said that there’s a saying among youth pastors; “Any phone call after 11 a.m. is bad news.” I’ll give you an example. Once, he was calmly working at his desk on a nice day in Huntsville, Alabama. He had a nice outline of everything he would do that day, and it was going well already. Then, he got the dreaded phone call. “I’m sorry to bother you, but we just found a kid loosely related to your youth group. He hung himself in his bedroom.” Boom. Immediately, his world changes. He’s calling the parents to see how they’re coping with it, he’s in a counselor’s office at the high school seeing how the kid’s classmates are coping with it, he’s talking to the youth group to see how they’re coping with it, and then, at the end of the day, he can sit back a process how he’s coping with it. And don’t even think he got to work on his sermon any that day either. All just because of one little phone call.

Even though his day can turn upside down in an instant, though, Pastor Jared said that he wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. He loves the adventure that each day brings him, and he loves being able to turn a kid’s life around in an instant. He told me a story about that very thing, and it was a pretty incredible one. Once, some time back, Jared was speaking at a youth retreat. It was the last night, and everything had gone well except for one thing; this kid, who was a bit of a thug, had been picked on mercilessly by a group of dudes throughout the week. He would snap back at them, which would make them pick harder, which would make him snap louder. You see where this is headed. Finally, on the last night, they started having a cussing battle and the group of guys were winning. That sent the kid over the edge. He walked to his backpack and pulled something out. Then he walked back over, holding the object in his coat pocket, and pointed it at them, saying, “Don’t mess with me. Leave me alone.”

Needless to say, the group of guys flipped out. When Jared came back to camp from where he had been helping to put up the games, he found all of the counselors talking about calling the cops and whether they should go in after him. Of course, Jared had no clue what was going on, so he was shocked when he heard what they were talking about. After finding out what had happened, Jared asked the other counselors not to call the police, but just to let him go in and talk to the kid. They agreed. So Jared walked in and told him, “Listen, I’m gonna have to search your stuff. If I don’t, they call the cops.” He looked in the suitcase and the toiletry bag first. He found nothing. Then, Jared told the guy to hand over his backpack. He wouldn’t do it. Jared asked him if he had any drugs. He said no. Then, Jared asked if he had a gun. The guy just froze. Ultimately, Jared convinced him that

  • throwing the gun in the bushes would not solve anything
  • it wouldn’t be better to spend the night in jail rather than facing his dad, because guess who’s gonna pick him up the next morning?
  • spray painting on the back of the sanctuary isn’t a great idea.

Pastor Jared at WorkYou may be thinking, “This kid must be the worst guy in the world. He has no future at all.” Well, currently, the boy is training for ministry as a pastor, and his life has been turned around. Now if that isn’t an indication of the power of God, I don’t know what is. Those are the times when it all becomes worth it for Pastor Jared and keeps him going through the rough days. He’s seen a lot of kids blow it in his 8½ years of ministry, but he’s also watched as kids got it and became transformed. He had taken about half an hour to tell his stories, and so he started to work on his normal Wednesday chores which included finishing his sermon for that night. He said that sometimes he has almost the entire sermon ready by Wednesday, sometimes he has bits and pieces, and sometimes God changes it at the last minute. Today was one of those days where he had gotten bits and pieces throughout the week and was now putting them all together.

While he worked, he gave me a new DVD series he’s planning on using in the youth group to watch and see how I liked it. Occasionally, I would see something that stuck out to me, and then Jared and I would talk about it for a little while. I guess you could say we had a miniature Bible study in his office. Anyway, we had some great discussions on a few different points that were conspicuous to my eyes, and I think Jared enjoyed it as much as I did. We did this for about two hours, mostly in silence until I would ask a question and he would answer it. It was a comfortable silence, though, and I got to observe Jared as he put together his sermon for the night.

About 12:30, Jared and I went to lunch. He picked Panera Bread, and he couldn’t have made a better choice. The food was incredibly tasty, and it filled us up quick. While we ate, we talked about some of the things I had read in the book for the DVD series that I thought would be good topics of discussion. We talked about prayer, and about preaching, and a dozen other things. Needless to say, we delved pretty deep into it, and shared some ideas and thoughts as well. After almost an hour at Panera, Jared and I finished our meal and left to go back to the church. There, he told me some more stories. While he was in Huntsville, their church was on a city block. At both ends of the block were two gas stations. They were the hottest places for selling drugs in the entire city. The church sat in the middle of that block. Jared said that he would see people run screaming through the church parking lot being chased by guys trying to hit them with a baseball bat, as well as drunk homeless people yelling and banging on the windows and doors. Not exactly choir boy-like settings, right? But they had a great chance of ministering to people, that’s for sure.

Did I Mention He's From Washington?The church was situated in the middle of the Black housing projects, and every weekend Jared and some helpers would pass out fliers in the neighborhood for a Sidewalk Puppet Ministry the next day. So one day, Jared was passing out fliers for the lesson. He was alone, because everyone had ditched him (more or less). He was almost finished, and it was starting to get dark, so he was hurrying to be done, because you don’t want to be out in the projects at night. Period. So he’s trying to quicken his pace and get all of the fliers passed out when suddenly a long black car pulled up slowly beside him and stopped. The window rolled down, and an African-American stuck his head out and said, “What’re you doin’ around here?” (Now normally, when a white guy was in that section of the projects, he was handing out eviction notices.) Jared calmly explained what he was doing, but in his head he was wondering what this drug dealer (because that’s what he was) was going to do, and whether or not he was going to get out of there in one piece. The guy looked at him and was silent for a moment, and then he sad, “If anyone gives you any trouble, tell them that Marvin said you could be here.” Then the car drove slowly off. Needless to say, Jared was officially finished passing out fliers. 😉

So that’s a sample of Jared’s life as a youth pastor before coming to Cleveland. Now, even though he isn’t seeing gang fights and drug deals throughout the day, almost every single day still holds new adventures for him. And it usually starts with a phone call. I guess it’s kind of like the line in It’s A Wonderful Life: “Every time a phone rings, a pastor feels the sting.” But even though he doesn’t enjoy watching people suffer, he is always prepared to deal with the possibility of an emergency. By the time we had finished talking, it was time to head over to the church and start getting ready for the service. Jared let me and another guy go and start to unlock and set up the building while he finished up a couple of things, and we were glad to be of service to him.

Jared Waldrop, Youth PastorWhen service time came around, it seemed a bit different to me. Maybe it was because I got to see backstage when it was still being put together. I don’t know. But before today, I had never known how much work and preparation goes into making a sermon and getting the church ready for all of the kids to come in. The sermon was wonderful, and spoke right to my heart. I felt like Jared was talking to me the whole time, but it was probably just me. However, I went home afterward feeling better about life, more in respective of the pastoral staff at my church, and more amazed of Jared. He’s the minuteman of the church world, the guy ready at all times. And he’s ready for action at the simple sound of a phone call.

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4 Responses to "Week 51: Lord Of The Ring"

  1. Deana says:

    David, I am so proud of all you have accomplished this year through 52 godly men. I have seen your writing change and become more polished as I compare week 1 to week 51. I thoroughly enjoy the humor that you splash throughout your articles. Sometimes it makes me smile, sometimes it makes me belly laugh! You are a great writer, with the ability to hold the attention of your readers. I have greatly enjoyed being a part of your journey!

  2. SRS says:

    Hey nice blog Dave, thank’s for coming to Lee today, mustn’t been easy talking to all us strangers lol.

    I see a lot of future in this and in you, great man of God. Let’s save this generation.


  3. Adrienne Brown says:

    David, I thoroughly have enjoyed watching you blossom over these last 51 weeks. I love this article on Pastor Jared. You have a knack with the written word and it has shown through the progression of your journey. Thanks for having the courage to meet with so many different men, write about it & live to tell about it. Seriously though, I am grateful for you and your parents who have paved the way and had this vision. Kennedy is very excited about her journey beginning. What a great example & leader you have become!


  4. Molly Mol Mitchy says:

    Lord of the ring? Lord of my ring you cheeky hobbit 😉

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