Mike Yaconelli died a few days ago. You may not know who Mike was, but I certainly do. Mike was the founder of Youth Specialties and a totally amazing man of God. I suppose I can't really describe how much this guy inspired me; not as a youth minister but as a follower of Christ. Mike was so all about being real, being honest, and falling at the feet of Christ. He has had a big influence on me and the way I live my walk. Mike constantly reminded us to love God and love kids. Don't worry about numbers in your groups, cheer when smoking druggie kids come to your church, be honest about how messy your life is. Live a life radically devoted to Christ, walking with Him daily and resting in Him. Being real when you are far from God, and realizing that you are such a work in progress. I have never really been sad before at the death of a celebrity, or an author, or speaker, or someone I don't personally know. I met Mike once at a conference but he was such a real guy and honest heart that I felt like I knew him in some way. He inspired me so much and I am truly sad to see him go.
You owe it to yourself to read his books and listen to any of his tapes that you can find. This man was honestly visionary and such an inspiration. I will miss hearing him and I look forward to seeing him again on the other side of eternity. I sincerely hope that Jesus is patting him on the back, and I fully believe he is hearing "well done good and faithful servant."
One thing I loved about Mike was the fact that he challenged others to think differently but at the same time he was such a humble man. Truly a sinner saved by grace, and he never let himself forget that. From the above article:
Last year, Yaconelli wrote in his latest book, Messy Spirituality, "I just want to be remembered as a person who loved God, who served others more than he served himself, who was trying to grow in maturity and stability. I want to have more victories than defeats, yet here I am, almost 60, and I fail on a regular basis.
"If I were to die today, I would be nervous about what people would say at my funeral. I would be happy if they said things like 'He was a nice guy' or 'He was occasionally decent' or 'Mike wasn't as bad as a lot of people.' Unfortunately, eulogies are delivered by people who know the deceased. I know what the consensus would be. 'Mike was a mess.'"
I hope I'm as messy as him when I grow up.