Lessons I Learned From “Tupac” Actor Demetrius Shipp’s Tonight Show Interview

Just recently, I received a letter from Youth Specialties, a national youth ministry organization that supports youth workers. The letter was a contract, spelling out my responsibilities as a speaker at their conference this year.
It’s was one of my dream in life to speak at this conference because it had given so much to me during my early years of youth ministry.
This post was supposed to go up several months ago, but I understand now, why it makes more sense to me now than then.
The movie received a lot of hype and flopped miserably at the box office but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from actor Demetrius Shipp’s success.
Watch the video and then read on.
He never intended to be an actor
How many of you are where you intended to be? Demetrius wanted to be a record producer and still can be, and might be, by the time you read this post.
Many of us were given a map, a course to follow: Go to college, get a job, work hard, rise to the top, retire. That’s a pretty boring map. This map was handed  to me, I tried to follow it, but it just didn’t work for me. I dropped out of college after three months, worked at a miniature gold course for about a year,  and then wound up going to a one year discipleship school on the other side of the country. I started my youth ministry career shortly after.
I’ve been in the same profession for 27, working with teenagers, but that wasn’t because I was the smartest or the best.  Every job, in every church, was an act of grace. I don’t think I “earned” the job as much as  I think God just knew I needed to be wherever I was and He helped me to be there.
I never intended to be a youth pastor for 27 years but I know, one day, the map will change again, and I’ll be in a place I never thought I would be because God needed me there.
He waited six years
Demetrius waited six year until he got the role of Tupac. Looking like him did not hurt him in getting the role but he still had to audition for job he wasn’t looking for.
Demetrius talked about working at Target and Home Depot like it was yesterday, and literally, it was probably yesterday. He speaks gratefully that he had a job and he also sees like he could go right back to it and be happy.
I hear about so many youth workers who are bi-vocational who pine for the day when they are full time youth workers in a church. I get it. I was there. I love when I see social media posts where youth workers are celebrating their first youth ministry job.
How long would you wait for a dream job? Six years sounds like a long time, but it will blow by if we ‘ll work hard, be grateful, and respect the life we do have rather than curse the life we don’t have.
His success surprises him
The way he talks, in my opinion, seems like he could go back to target and have no problem working there, even after being in a big, albeit, poorly reviewed movie.
How many of us could go big time, work in a large church, big youth ministry, and then go back to a small church of 10-15 kids? It’s not like it hasn’t been done, but would you be ok with it or would you resent it? Demetrius seems like he’d embrace going back to work at jobs that supported him for six years.
Success, to some degree, should surprise us and not surprise us. We should be  awestruck by God’s grace towards us and be humbled by the years we’ve put in to get where we are.
Now, me speaking at Youth Specialties this year changes nothing. I’ll come back from the conference and I’ll still be ministering at a small church with a small youth ministry, and I am perfectly fine with that, until God changes the map again of course.

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