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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's your agenda?

rAlright, this post is gonna be a little out of line with my normal topic, but I promise I will get around to connecting it back to Ag without making a sermon of it, maybe.

I was sitting in Praise Service this Wednesday night at our campus ministry, worn out, tired, and running on adrenaline and caffeine. It's been a long week, tests, lab practicals, and the threat of a looming college graduation without a job lead. It's been keeping me up at night and my mind busy. So here I am sitting, and I just try to absorb everything that is going on. It's noticeable that we college students are tired. It's that lull in the middle of the semester where everyone gets busy and packs their schedules trying anything to avoid said assignments.

There are many different ways that we can approach things like a Praise Service through the duration of a semester. I am going to list 4. And I think people outside of the college group should be able to relate.

First, there is the beginning of the semester. I will call this Contribution. We are excited for a fresh start. Enthusiastic to start things off on the right foot and hit the ground running. If someone mentions a new project, we are all for it. Let's go! There is so much energy in the room, everyone's face lights up with their passion for praising the Lord for all the great things he places in our lives. We build off each others energy and are making a strong presence.

Second, there is this lull in the middle. I will call this Feeding. This point comes at different points in time for everyone. Exams, papers, group projects, assignments, quizzes. Yeah they are all coming together at one week. It's a known fact that our professors meet at the beginning of each semester to plan on making our life tough. For the people that are in this stage, we are there to feed of each others energy. We are running on caffeine, adrenaline, a lack of sleep, and the threat of looming assignments. We are there to take a breather, and take in a little breath of relief from outside pressures.

Third, there is Encouragement. This is the middle of the semester where we find that small window where the load lightens just that small bit. We gather with our friends to relax and enjoy our time. This often includes some social activity after the meeting, eating, games, movies, that sort of thing to just hang out. We spend our time encouraging those around us that are having a rough time with said assignments. Show 'em the light and tell 'em that it will get better. This is where we shine and lend each other a much needed helping hand.

Finally, but not of least importance, is the Final Lap! The end of the semester is nearing. Everyone DREADS the looming Finals week. We all know it's a fact that "Dead Week" has everything to do with how we will feel for those two weeks, and nothing to do with the lack of points that are to be assigned during that week. We gather with anticipation, looking for that bit of light at the end of the tunnel. It's there, we know it is. We just need someone to remind us of that. This often includes a long drawn out social time after our meeting. The meals drag out, none of us really wanting to tackle the studies that will be waiting on our return to the desk. This is where the leaders of the crowd step up and give us that boost that we are looking for.

I know that I am not the best at putting my thoughts into words, but I hope these get the gist of what I am getting at. I am in that dreaded Feeding stage right now. I need that reminder that there are better things ahead and this trip through the trenches will soon pass. I showed up at Praise Service tonight with that state of mind. I needed to feed off others energy, cause Lord knows I feel like I ran out.

This is when the devotional video hit me straight between the eyes. Smack dab in the middle of the forehead. The question to sum it all up was, what's the purpose of your mission. Do your actions have an agenda underneath them? The example was given about the "Bullhorn" Christian who preaches the condemnation of all sinners, but is he really getting anywhere with this agenda that he has planned for everyone with his condemnations? No, sadly not.

This is what got me to thinking about my recent ideas in working the social networks to connect with those out there on the other side of the "Agriculture fences". Have I had an agenda behind "Sharing my story of Agriculture" with animal rights activists, vegetarians, and all others that fall in between? Well, I don't think I have, but I definitely get the feeling that others do from the comments that I have received and read.

We do not get anywhere with arguments, condemnations of one's actions/choices, or telling people how they should live. Telling someone that they are wrong for choosing to be a vegan/vegetarian will not make them want to eat meat. It will not convince them that American agriculturalists are doing all they can to provide a safe, quality food supply to a growing world population. And it will not get the Animal Rights activists of their soap boxes and onto our side of the tracks.

I do not want to have an agenda behind using social networks to create a dialogue with those that may disagree agriculture practices. I simply want to share my passion and love for animal agriculture, raising cattle, and enjoying the life that comes with the territory with those that do not get to experience such things. I want the people in urban areas that have never seen food outside a grocery store to hear about this way of life that only a few Americans get the chance to experience. And if I get a few more people to see that Animal Agriculturists make this a better place to live, and a few vegetarians to sit down to a steak dinner, that's just icing on the cake.

So while there may be people out there that continue to "condemn and preach" to their audiences, I want to share my story of being a part of agriculture, simply to let others know what they are missing out on. I hope that whoever stumbles upon this blog and makes it to the end of this post will take on that same attitude. Don't take this as a sermon. But it doesn't matter what stage you find yourself at. It might be you are ready Contribute. You might be the one looking to Feed of others. Are you giving or receiving Encouragement. Or are you on that Final Lap? Learn to recognize when people are in need of a little encouragement, maybe they need to feed off your energy, or maybe you need to borrow some of theirs. Don't have an agenda to convert those that don't see things as you do, just share your knowledge just because you can.

There's a saying that goes something like this: Every action has a reaction. What will be the reaction to your actions?