The Biggest Thing I Learned in College

I learned a lot in college (I think…); but to me, college became a space where I finally learned to love learning. This love for learning led to so many life lessons, because I didn’t just want to be a better student in my classes; I wanted to learn how to be a better human. I wanted to learn how to be a higher quality man. I wanted to learn what it really looks like to be an adopted son. And I wanted to learn how to make people feel noticed and valued.

Well, at least I scratched the surface a little bit, right?

In hindsight, the last three years have been a freaking whirlwind. Dickens was right, it really was the best of times and it was the worst of times (he was talking about college, right?).

To sum college up, I never wanted to come to A&M, but I came anyways. I made a lot of really stellar friends. I pushed all of those friends away because dating seemed way cooler than friends at the time (a-whoops). I lived with guys that I didn’t gel with at all. I almost quit on College Station and moved to Nashville. Spoiler: I ended up not moving to Nashville. Then, I made some of the best friends I’ve ever known.rectangle love shack

I got connected with a few super incredible families that treated me as if we shared blood. IMG_3782.JPG

I went on a crazy, 7-week road trip.IMG_1487.PNG

I started an unbelievably awesome job with co-workers that are more fantastic than I could even ever explain to you.IMG_2102.JPG

There has been losses and gains of friends and community and houses and rats (long story). But in all of it — the really crappy and the really wonderful — there was the Lord. And he wasn’t just there, but he was the one brainstorming, planning, strategizing, and executing the adventure with absolutely no help at all from me, because I don’t have the attention span to help him plan something super awesome, crazy, fun, and growing.

 

All that to say, I came into college thinking I knew quite a lot about how to live life both on my own and with people. I now know that I knew very very little, if anything at all, about anything at all. I don’t mean any of this to be self-deprecating; it drives me crazy when people pull that. I mean all of this to say that I’ve learned that I have more than a lot of room to grow in humility. But I know that growth has happened and is happening because of something that C.S. Lewis said,

“If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud.”

It’s comforting to me that I’ve gained the self-awareness over the last few years to assess myself as being depraved. If I weren’t depraved, then Jesus would not have died in my place to make me an eternal heir to the Kingdom of Heaven, for he would not have needed to do so.

*****

“I am far less important than I thought; but I am far more valued than I thought.”

These words have been stuck in my head like duct tape for the past couple of weeks as I’ve reflected on the past few years. I think it was so important for me to realize that I am not irreplaceable in any way, shape, or form. I am not the only one who can do my job or be a friend to those around me. People are not dependent on my presence for joy and satisfaction in life. But here’s the deal, even though I am not as important and irreplaceable as I thought I was three years ago, I am far more valued than I thought I was three years ago. Far more valued by the Lord; far more valued by my friends; far more valued by my co-workers.

In short, the biggest thing I learned in college is that life is not about me.

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And Away We Go

Well friends, we did it. We really did it.

I could probably post about seventeen blogs about the last three years that I spent in college, but instead why don’t we just celebrate that we’re finished?

This is a blog mainly focused on catching you up on what’s coming up next in my life.

 

  1. I’m graduated from Texas A&M University – College Station with a degree concentrated in Leadership Development and two minors: Business and Psychology.

That may sound like a lot, but the program through which I accomplished my degree has a set-up conducive to having three areas of study. For those of you that are trying to do quick math in your head, yes I did graduate early. Most people ask me why I decided to graduate early and the answer is really super simple: no more student loans, please!

      2. I’m staying in Bryan/College Station for at least the next year.

For the past year I have been working as an intern for a newer church here in Bryan/College Station. My roles have included anything from setting up/stacking chairs, standing and directing traffic in a burning hot or freezing cold parking lot, teaching  kids about the person and works of Jesus, playing in the worship band, running slides, getting coolers for after-church parties, and everything else operational that you could possibly think of. I lived the intern life real hard. However, this summer I have transitioned into a more specific role(s) (though still moderately general).

The majority of my job will involve wearing three hats. The first hat is in the role of Executive Assistant to our Lead Teaching Pastor. The main thing this entails is scheduling and helping him with administrative tasks so that he can be freed up to think about our vision and direction as a church and plan for sermons and shepherd our people really well. The second hat is an oversight role over all of our worship and production. This hat entails shepherding our band and production (slides/sound) volunteers, coordinating setlists and music with our worship leaders, and fighting for the most effective and efficient services on Sundays (in terms of operations). The third hat I wear entails oversight of all of our social media and graphic design. This mainly involves making graphics and keeping announcement slides updated (or delegating graphic design to one of the awesome designers in our congregation).

I love doing all of these things and more, don’t get me wrong. But my absolute favorite part of my job hands down is the fact that I get to be the team leader for the best parking team in the land. I could write an entire blog on how incredible my parking team is, but I’ll only brag on them briefly. They are part of what make Sundays doable for me. They are the bomb.

3. In order to do all of this, I have been given the opportunity to raise support.

I legitimately mean it, too — it is a fantastic opportunity, because I have gotten to totally brag on the LORD for what He’s doing in Bryan/College Station numerous times and it absolutely pumps me up each time I get to talk about it. My salary for the next year is 100% fundraised. What this means is that unless I have a group of people around me that buy in to my vision and/or the vision of Declaration Church, I do not get to work for DC full-time.

As of right now, I currently need $3,142 more in order to meet my goal. (That is $261.83/month if you’d like to think about it that way). If this is something in which you’d like to partner with me or at least hear more about, I’d love to talk more about it with you. I’ve attached a link at the bottom of this blog that takes you to a page with more information and where you can give if you feel so inclined! Don’t feel pressured, but do know that I would absolutely love to have you on my team going forward!

 

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*above is a picture of the church staff and wives and the couple that hosted our last staff retreat. We’ve lost a couple of them to other jobs and other cities but the majority of them are still around!

 

In short, I never thought I would finish college in three years. I never thought I would stay here. I never thought I would love this little city called Bryan, Texas so much. I never thought I would be support raised. I never thought I would have people here for whom I would do anything. I never thought some of my best friends would be under the age of 10 (lots of babysitting).

The LORD has blown up any kind of expectation I had for my life post-graduation and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the church planting movement here in the South-Central United States.

 

If you’d like to hear more about what I’m doing or more about Declaration Church, please don’t hesitate to ask! My email is heyden@declarationchurch.net and I’d love to answer any question that I can. The following link goes to a page that has more information about my Residency Program.

https://www.declarationchurch.net/Heyden.aspx

 

In Whom Do We Trust? (Part II)

It is important to note that a moderate number of the founders of the United States were not Biblical Christians; if they even considered themselves Christians at all. As was previously discussed regarding John Adams and the Treaty of Tripoli, Adams believed the government of the United States to not at all be founded on the Christian religion[1]. He was also a Unitarian and disbelieved the Trinity, an important aspect of the Christian faith. Unitarianism is also part of the universalism movement, which teaches universal salvation to all who believe in any god they so choose. In other words, no matter which god or religion to which you ascribe, everyone will end up in the same place. Thomas Jefferson also did not believe in Scripture as written; so, he decided to write his own bible removing content at his own will and discretion. Jefferson also wrote, in a letter to John Adams in April of 1823,

The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus by the Supreme Being in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter.[2]

Furthermore, because of Jefferson’s manifested beliefs in this letter, one may conclude that Jefferson thought of Christianity as tomfoolery at best. If two of the first three democratically elected leaders were so clearly not Christian, then it is, at best, ill reasoning to assume the nation to be explicitly founded upon the Christian religion.

Another aspect of the debate is the discussion of national mottos; such as, “In God We Trust” – imprinted on coins and Treasury notes – and “…one nation, under God…” in the Pledge of Allegiance. In regards to “In God We Trust”, this was not imprinted on money until 1861[3] and was only done for political appeasement of the National Reform Association, not out of true belief on behalf of Congress or President Lincoln. The NRA brought before the president an entire amendment to the preamble of the Constitution that would explicitly make the United States a Christian nation. This was too great a favor to ask, so the politicians compromised with the committee and put “In God We Trust” on United States coins. A few presidents after that, namely Teddy Roosevelt[4], attempted to remove the motto from money, but every attempt was failed on grounds of tradion. In regards to “…one nation, under God…”, this phrase was added to the pledge in the middle of the twentieth century by President Eisenhower[5]; this was not, by any means, and original phrase, contrary to popular belief.

 

[1] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 4

[2] Schweitzer. Founding Fathers

[3] Fea. Was America Founded… pg. 23

[4] Schweitzer. Founding Fathers…

[5] Schweitzer. Founding Fathers…

You Were Made For This

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I am not your typical “Younglife story.”

For most kids, being a “Younglife story” means for the first time finding the Lord in Younglife, whether that be at summer camp, Polar Bear, campaigners, club, etc.

For me; however, it was a different story.

You see, I knew all about who Jesus was all growing up. I was the nice little southern baptist boy who would treat you as inferior because in my mind, my sin wasn’t as bad as yours. Simply put, I had no idea who Jesus was and what his Gospel meant. Sophomore year was my lowest point. I had inferiorized (new word) all of my friends to the point that I essentially had no friends except for a few faithful that to this day I have no idea why they put up with me.

About halfway through the first semester (I think) of my sophomore year, this guy named Billy Suess started this thing at my private high school called “Younglife.” Here’s the thing though, I didn’t know anything about it. The few things I had heard were things like “Ah, younglife hardly does ministry” or “they just hang out with all the partiers.” So to the nice little baptist boy who thought he was superior to all the partiers, Younglife sounded like hell. This caused a ton of cynicism and skepticism. Mostly because I thought I had life and Jesus and the Gospel all figured out. It’s almost comical how wrong I was. But really it just shows a fraction of the depth of God’s grace.

At the end of my sophomore year, I lost someone who was very close to me in a motorcycle accident. That’s where the process started for me. Jesus began turning my life over like the tables in the temple that he angrily flipped. He began driving out the thieves in my heart and making room for real worship to begin. But that’s a-whole-nother story.

So we get to football two-a-days my junior year and I was a trainer (aka I made sure no one died when they threw up or passed out). I see this familiar guy standing on the sideline that for sure was not a coach. He was wearing his cargo shorts, flip flops, t-shirt and his bear hat (regular hat, bear as the symbol above the bill). So I go up to meet him and talk to him and figure out that it was Billy Suess, the team leader/area director for Hyde Park Younglife and NW Austin Younglife. We get to talking and he listened to my insane summer and all my encounters with Jesus. He just stood there, listening to my every word. He actually cared (or at least faked it really really well).

Then comes the (unkowningly) life changing question: “So Billy. I hear all of these rumors about what Younglife is. But I want to hear from you what it is. What it’s intended to be.”

He goes on to explain that Younglife is just another way to show high school students who Jesus really is. It’s an avenue for the Gospel. Then, the life-changing answer: “Heyden, you can believe whatever you want about Younglife. Just come hang with us.” He never begged or pleaded. Just said “we want you to come hang” and left it at that.

DONE. I was completely sold at that point.

Heading to spring semester of my junior year:

I get asked to go on this “Student Leader Retreat” where I would meet friends who are to this day family to me. Then this burly, man’s man named Andy Baxter sits down in front of us and says: “We’re gonna learn how to pray.” So he and Billy start talking about prayer and how it truly is a conversation with our Dad. My mind was blown. Then he sent us out to be by ourselves and to pray like we had just learned (15 minutes of talking (out loud) to Jesus and 15-30 minutes of sitting still and listening to what He had to say back). Because Dad always has something to say back. That was the night, after 17 years of churching, that I learned how to pray.

WE MOVE TO SUMMER AFTER JUNIOR YEAR: (I’m getting pumped just remembering all of this.)

Load the buses! We are going to Crooked Creek (ahh CC). Little did we know that the bus ride would actually be hell. However, words leave me when I try and describe the incredibleness that was experienced when we pulled into Frasier, Colorado. Friend, I cannot begin to describe to you that it was literally the best week of my entire life. When I got back, there was the common question:

“So, Heyden. What was your biggest takeaway from camp?”

My answer?

“Life with Jesus is the greatest possible adventure I could ever go on.”

Guess who taught me that? Billy Suess.

So onto senior year:

About halfway through the first semester, I get a call from Pierce Harmon, the new Hyde Park team leader, asking my thoughts on being a student leader. My answer?

“*insert overly giddy emotions that cause me to hardly be able to talk* Pierce, is that even a real question?!?!”

I could go on and on about all the things my team taught me, but I won’t. Here’s a few, though:

-be all in wherever you are. Don’t play on your phone or think about what is coming next. When you’re with somebody, BE THERE.

-leading well and loving well means being organized.

-making people feel loved isn’t even close to as hard as some people make it out to be.

-silliness is essential in life.

-be patient and go where the Lord takes you.

-stories are important.

and finally,

-once you’re in the family, you’re never out. No matter what.

The theme of my Younglife story: Being able to love well isn’t dependent on my abilities, it is because I’ve been loved well. Not only by my Younglife family, but by my Jesus.

“Yes. There will be some people that just don’t like you, but at the end of the day, Jesus was the life of the party. You know why? Because he loved people. And he loved them with everything he had.” – Billy Suess