Last October, Erik Edwards became an unpaid staff member. So, we recently celebrated his anniversary, and I got to say the nice things about him. Getting to tell the rest of our staff team how selfless, committed, and competent Erik is was a true joy for me. I share these words with you so that you, too, can hear how amazing Erik is, if you don't already know. If you're a student or parent of a student, then you most likely know already:) Please take an opportunity to thank Erik for how he has impacted you, your teenager, and your relationship with God.
October is notable for Erik for two reasons—his birthday and the anniversary of his being “staff.” We don’t pay him, but he is committed to PCC; he’s more than competent in the ways he serves here; he has great chemistry with our team, and with our students and their families; he has highly respectable character, and he gets our culture.
Erik has served PCC in countless ways, from the Steering Team to the Safety Team to concert organizer, but his role as “staff” is as our Student Ministry Assistant. He assists with the multi-campus student ministry efforts, namely the annual retreats and mission trips.
Erik is the best details person I’ve ever worked with! He can look at a monumental undertaking, like moving 90 students and adults from point A to point B, getting them all registered, paid for, and forms collected and keeping them safe while keeping an eye on the big picture the whole time—offering opportunities where students can encounter God and let Him change their lives for the rest of their lives and for eternity. He is a details person who is extremely pleasant to work with; he doesn’t rattle easily; he stays calm, collected, and thinks through problems well—all while treating people with grace and patience. He is a details person who knows things will go wrong and goes with it when it happens. He is a details person who does, indeed, think through every detail, and he comes in under budget on everything.
All of these things make serving alongside Erik delightful.
But what I admire most about Erik is how he got to be in the position he’s in now. See, the first time I met Erik, I went to his house for dinner to talk about his interest in getting involved in student ministry. At that time, I found out that he and Becky weren’t yet members, and that was largely due, maybe entirely due, to some issues with me. But Erik was willing to take a chance, to be part of my team, and to let those issues work themselves out. Not once have I felt like Erik was not part of my team. When he agreed to join our student ministry team, he seems to have agreed to be all-in, despite his initial reservations.
One of the greatest conflicts I’ve faced in recent years in ministry with was Erik. I proposed some ideas that he took significant issue with. As a critical leader in my ministry, he had every right to question my ideas; in fact, as a critical leader in my ministry, it’s his responsibility to evaluate my decisions and directions and to engage me about them.
But it was difficult for us both. We’re both reserved people who need time to process and who’d rather not do conflict. But we were in conflict—good, ideological conflict that makes our ministry better. It was painful for us both. I cried. He cried. We wrestled with our opposing ideas.
But I’ve never been part of conflict that went so well. Erik’s character showed through, and we sat down to talk, each having had time to process, and had a healthy, healing, honest conversation that defined our partnership. We almost always see eye-to-eye, which makes working together refreshingly easy, but now we know that we can work together well when we vehemently disagree, too.
Erik has made our student mission trips and retreats bigger, more impactful, and more enjoyable than I ever could have. He’s rented more vans, trained more chaperones, personally recruited more students, collected more fuel receipts, made more phone calls to mission trip project coordinators, and eased more worried parents’ minds than I have. He’s made each student feel like he wanted them to come on the mission trip; he’s made them feel like they matter to him, and that helps them see that they matter to God. He’s got a soft spot for the students who push boundaries, and he’s a tangible representation of God’s presence and acceptance to them.
Erik has made our church’s impact bigger and better, and he’s made me a better pastor and leader.
Happy Anniversary, Erik!