The following is a guest blog post from Jodi Hickerson, Teaching Pastor and Programming Director for Mission Church in Ventura, California. Jodi is one of our 50+ speakers at the Exponential Regionals this fall:
I grew up as a pastor’s kid.
Well, I guess I still am both, growing up and a pastor’s kid. My dad has been a pastor all of my life, and he is a phenomenal teacher and communicator. Even at an early age, his gift to teach people about God’s truth and grace was evident to me. I have always loved sitting under his teaching.
As kids, we traveled with him when we would speak at conferences or large events. We got to experience church planting in “Sin City” where we saw thousands of people find hope through Jesus Christ in a local YMCA where my dad would teach with a planted mural of a gymnast behind him. Later watched him boldly and graciously transition a church in Bible belt to focus on reaching people far from God and that is exactly what happened. It was always amazing to me to see the way that God used my dad and his gifts to help people.
When I was 19, I lived in Haiti for a year working a Christian Mission. During Christmas break of that year, a group from our church came to volunteer at the mission, including my family. I hadn’t seen them in months, and it was an incredible two weeks. On the last day of the trip, my dad pulled me aside. I’ll never forget it. He said, “Jo, do you know what my favorite part of this trip was?” I guessed a few things. Then he said, “It was the night that you lead devotion time. You have a gift. You are gifted to communicate God’s word, and if you let Him, God will use that to help a bunch of people.”
Still today, that memory holds such a special place in my heart. It was the first time someone told me that I had the gift of teaching, that it was from God, and that I should use it. And this wasn’t just anyone – this was MY DAD!
When I returned home, he invited me to do research for the teaching team at our church. I would work for hours reading commentaries and thinking of illustrations for messages that I didn’t teach. And I loved it. God sparked something in me.
Later, as I began teaching in student ministry and still today after being a teaching pastor for the last 12 years, it is a rare occasion that I don’t ask my dad for input or send him the message to look over.
Of course, he is not the only one, but when it comes to “gift activating” in my own story, I can’t help but think of my dad and the impact he has had on my life and what God has called me to.
He was the first one who said those powerful words, “I see in you.” He has spent countless hours looking over messages, giving me feedback, gently correcting, helping me find my voice, and being one of my biggest cheerleaders. What a privilege it is now anytime that I get to do this for someone else. As leaders we must.
But honestly, all of the teaching, encouraging and sharpening of my gifts have not been the most important things that he has taught me.
I remember exactly where we were on a walk in South Barrington, IL nearly 15 years ago when he told me, “you can’t love to teach and not love people.” I remember when he said to me that humility is the soil where all of our gifts grow. I remember him telling me and modeling for me that it matters to be the same person off the stage as on the stage. I watched and learned as he deferred credit. He showed me that leadership doesn’t have to be lonely and how important it is to have people that really know us, warts and all. I learned from him that real evangelism looks a lot like time with people who need hope and need a friend. He has emphatically reminded me over and over that who I am becoming is more important than where I go or what I do. This is the stuff that matters.
As we lead, as we develop and send out other leaders, let’s be the kind of people that both fan their gifts into flame and also remind them that their gifts aren’t the most important things.
If you are (still) reading this, I could have chosen a dozen other examples of people who have truly been hero makers in my life. I was tempted to, just so that I didn’t sound like a cheesy 12 year old girl. But, this is my truth. As leaders, teachers, planters, ministry directors, we have so much opportunity to be great “gift activators” for the people in our spheres of influence… and that includes our homes too. So, just a shout out to all of the parents reading this! We have the incredible privilege to be the first to say those four powerful words, “I see in you.”
Getting to Know Jodi
Exponential asked our speakers to answer a few questions to help get to know them better. Check out some of Jodi’s answers to the questions below:
If you were not doing what you are now doing vocationally, and you could pursue any other career, what would it be?
Sports announcer for college basketball.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right here in Ventura, CA
What’s your favorite movie of all time?
What’s your favorite hobby or thing to do in your spare time?
Sit around the fire pit with great friends.
Other than the Bible, what’s the most impactful book you’ve ever read?
The Ragamuffin Gospel
Hero Maker Conferences
Hero Maker is the theme for Exponential 2018. The theme focuses on the shift from being the hero to coming alongside others for them to become the heroes in our church’s unfolding story. At each conference, we will unpack the 5 essential practices for leaders to multiply leaders: multiplication thinking, permission giving, disciple multiplying, gift activating, and kingdom building.
|5 Main Sessions||10+ Speakers||FREE Equipping Labs|
Other Regional Conference Locations
- Washington, DC: September 10-11
- Southern California: October 2-4
- Bay Area: October 22-23
- Houston: October 24-25
- Chicago: November 6-7
- New York City: December 5-6
To learn more and to register for any of the 2018 Hero Maker conferences, click here.