My name is Joe Pedersen and I am a husband to one, a father to two, a friend to many and a youth pastor in southern Oregon
I am an imperfect man who believes in a perfect grace from a perfect God.
The following is the story of how my calling into youth ministry was confirmed and where my faith in Jesus really became my own….
He was sitting all alone in the middle row at the big teen rally my church youth group attended. He looked lost and alone. He was wearing a sun-faded green shirt that said “Mountain Dew”on the front, some worn out cargo shorts and some old Adidas shoes. As I approached the seat next to him I started to smell an odor…an odor that is unmistakable to the trained nose, teenage boy body odor! I was already committed to the seat next to him though and there was no turning around because my friends forced me to the middle of the row so they could sit on the ends of the rows so that they could ditch out when the speaker started preaching.
As I sat down I introduced myself, he responded with,”Hi, I’m Daniel”. Little did I know, but Daniel was about to teach me the greatest lesson I’ve ever learned.
His odor faded and I became nose blind to it after about the second chorus of “Lord I lift Your name on high”. He was a really genuine guy but seemed to have no friends. As the songs ended and the speaker started his message I’ll never forget hearing these words from the stage…”It’s not about you! This life is not about you!”
The speaker may have said something else before that, but that is what I remember hearing and I heard it not just with my ears, I heard it in my soul and in my innermost man. I don’t remember a lot of what was said after that, but I remember the leader giving the invitation to come to the front of the stage and kneel down and pray if you’d like to know Jesus or if you’d like to have someone pray for you about things going on in your life.
Daniel, my new, smelly friend was led to go to the front but he was nervous and he didn’t want to be alone…I’ll never forget this moment…He looked me square in the eyes and asked me, “will you go up there with me and just be with me while I accept Jesus?”
After hearing those profound words “it’s not about you!” and then this janky looking kid asking me to be with him while he met Jesus I knew right then and there that I was called to work with teenagers and help bring them closer to Jesus…
my life was not my own anymore
I went to the front that night, not for myself, but for Daniel…
Philippians 2 verse 3 has become my life verse and I strive to live it out each day…
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility, consider others better than yourself.”
It was an honor to be asked by Nick to share my thoughts on youth ministry and today’s youth. I look forward to learning and growing with you all!
Fun facts about myself: I’ve been drinking coffee since before it was cool, I wear glasses because I have vision problems not for fashion reasons, I’ve been in youth ministry for 7 years and I believe that everyone has a story to share!
cheers ~ joe