I am Second

01Jun, 2010

From the SMU Daily Mustang

Narcissistic, lazy and spoiled are just a few of the characteristics that some may use to describe Generation Y. From social networking sites that are used as virtual ego inflators to the instant-fame obsessed culture, it’s no wonder people have diagnosed the Millennials as “overdosed on self-esteem.”

However, there is a new counterculture movement called I AM SECOND and it has leaked onto the SMU campus. According to their website, the organization is meant to inspire people of all kinds to live for God and for others.

Representatives from the nationwide movement range from athletes like former University of Texas quarterback, Colt McCoy, to American Idol’s Jason Castro, to the every day person.

The movement uses short videos of personal testimonies that deal with the typical struggles of everyday living.

SMU junior James Parker saw the need for a group that empowers students to live for something greater than them—to be second. He decided to begin the first I AM SECOND group early this spring in the Mary Hay Hall.

“I see this [group] not just as a Christian thing, but for each other,” Parker said.

Although James is well-connected with students as a resident advisor and a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, he didn’t know what to expect the first meeting.

“I thought maybe six or seven students would show up, but when I opened the door, it was like a roar,” Parker said.

To his surprise, nearly 30 students showed up at the first meeting.

Perhaps SMU students have their own perceptions of religious based groups, but Parker said that the I AM SECOND group on campus is not what you may think. On the group’s Facebook page is a disclaimer stating, “I AM SECOND is not: a bible study, church group, youth group or whatever.”

Due to the success of the group, four other resident halls now host a discussion group. The meetings consist of watching an I AM SECOND video and then discussing how it relates to your life.

The discussion groups not only talk about students’ personal struggles but how they are able to become second to God.

Group leader Evan Taylor said he envisions the group volunteering together so they can grow closer.

“We are community-based and about each other,” Taylor said.

Freshman Kacey Nelson, a participant in the group agrees that helping others should be something people focus more time on.

“I don’t think people spend enough time helping others,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t even have to be religious.”

Although the I AM SECOND group on campus is rooted in Christian values, the group strives to be inclusive and welcomes people from all religions to attend the meetings.

Nelson said that the group does not allow people to be judgmental and Taylor said students will not feel out of place.

“I just want SMU to know that this is a safe place,” Taylor said “No one would be bashed for their beliefs.”

With a selfless movement like I AM SECOND on the rise, it is unclear as to whether some Generation Y stereotypes are warranted. In fact, the Pew Research Center conducted a report on the values, attitudes and behaviors of Millennials.

The study found that the things Millennials value in life mirror the things older generations value. Family matters most and fame and fortune are much less important.

Journalism professor at SMU, Jake Batsell, also argues against Generation Y stereotypes in his recent blog post titled, “Journalism’s Next Generation: Working with Millennials.” Batsell claims that SMU journalism students actually want to make a difference.

“They want to use their multi-platform storytelling skills to do some good,” Batsell said.

Helping others has certainly become a trend at SMU.

“Two recent SMU grads spent part of last summer reporting and blogging from Romanian orphanages and one of our recent alums helped start an orphanage in Uganda,” wrote Batsell.

There are many different opportunities to ‘be second’ and make a difference at SMU. If you would like to get involved with the I AM SECOND’ group on campus, they hold meetings at Perkins Hall, Mary Hay Hall, Virginia Snider Hall, Shuttles Hall and Morrison-McGinnis Hall.

You can check out their website for SMU students for more information.

21Jan, 2010

Jon’s Story

Jon was a long term project.   His sister, Vicki, had been praying for him for 24 years.  Around the first of January Jon saw the Colt McCoy I am Second commercial running on ESPN.  He was out of town, but he went to his computer to check out www.iamsecond.com as soon as he got back home to Boise, Idaho on Jan 7th.

As Jon watched film after film, he was amazed how Jesus changed lives.  Jon called Vicky, who lives way off in Atlanta, to see what she thought of the site.  “It’s good, keep looking at it” she told him.

Jon spent 6 hours . . . yes, 6 hours . . . looking at videos.  Then his heart could not hold back . . . he fell to his knees and talked to Jesus. Confessing.  Worshipping.  Putting his faith in He Who is First.

Find an I am Second Group” caught Jon’s eye on iamsecond.com.  As he clicked on the page, up popped a Google map right around his house.  Jon didn’t know it, but that part of the website had gone live just 3 days before.  But in God’s providence there already was a group registered near him.  Probably not another one for 500 miles, but God had a group right there for Jon to find.

Jon connected with Jeremy, the group leader.  Then tried out the group two days later.  He loved it.  “People there really are pumped about Jesus,” he told me on the phone.

Jon called Vicky to tell her the good news that he now believed in the Good News.  Vicky’s joy overflowed to Mike R, one of her prayer partners.  Mike R sent it on to Scott, one of our Board members who lives in Orlando.  Scott knew I’d love the story, so he sent it on to me.

The rejoicing went from Boise to Atlanta to Orlando to Charlotte, where I was when I got Scott’s forward of Mike R’s forward of Vicky’s hallelujah email message.  As I joined in the email celebration, Mike R asked where I am Second is headed next.  When I responded that actually I was in Charlotte that very moment discussing launching there, Mike R mentioned that Apartment Life, the ministry he’s with, had just started work there.

A few hours later . . . I’m sitting across the table at a Starbucks in Charlotte talking to Nick, AL’s brand spanking new regional leader.  Discussing how we might partner together.  All because Jon trusted Christ in Boise a few days before.

The fingerprints of God . . . all over that whole thing.  I can’t help but believe in a sovereign God who WILL accomplish His plans, and often in a way that only He gets the acclaim for pulling it off.

Also challenges me NOT to give up when praying for someone.  For we never know when or how God will cause the spiritual dominoes to fall.

Here’s what Vicky told us later—

“I want to personally thank every person involved with this website for helping to bring my brother Jon to Christ.  Jon and I were not raised together.  We share an earthly father who struggled to give either of us what we needed emotionally.  But now, after I have been praying for him since he was 15 years old – 24 1/2 years of prayers, God has drawn us together as children of the same heavenly father.  A father who can love Jon in a way that he has never experienced before.

“The work that you are doing has such great eternal impact.  My brother who was lost up until this day is now absolutely blown away by the love of Christ and his new life in him.  And I have the privilege of sharing this with Jon and having new life breathed into my own spiritual walk – if DOES matter what we say, what we do, where we put our efforts, and how we nurture these over the years.”

People are looking for hope and change and God.  Would you like to be there when they come looking?  Register your group or ministry at http://iamsecond.com/join/.

-Mike, I am Second Coach

14Jan, 2010

It’s still football season, so let’s talk about the obvious – no need to be obscure here. Outstanding in his field, Colt McCoy is a rock star. We have watched him perform unbelievable feats all year long on the field. On top of all that, it’s a bonus to us Christians that he is a Christian too. We get to call him “one of us.”

Along with Colt, we have some Heisman Trophy winners on our team: Sam Bradford, Mark Ingram, Tim Tebow. Other professional athletes – Jason Witten, Greg Ellis, Jason Terry, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols. And going old school, AC Green, Reggie White, David Robinson. What about all the actors and musicians? Besides the ones on our site, there are still so many more out there. All of them, outstanding in their field.

My guess is that they just didn’t “happen” upon their celebrity status. My guess is that in second grade, Jason Terry was standing on the block shooting jump shots trying his best to reach the basket. And by high school, David Robinson stood at that free throw line shooting 500 free throws a day. Do you think Jason Castro just woke up one day able to play the ukulele like a skilled professional?

How about I am Second? I’m going to just throw this one out there and say that I am Second is outstanding in its field of “website testimonies” and say its not like other websites either. Our video team, our IT department, our marketing group, our leadership…they didn’t just wake up one day as exceptional either.

Are you seeing something in common here?

I’ve realized that Jesus never settled for being mediocre either. A favorite verse of mine is Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”

Can you shoot free throws for the Lord? Of course.

Does Colt McCoy throw touchdowns for Jesus Christ? You bet.

Do we make video testimonies and launch small groups and encourage you to do the same all for the glory of the Kingdom? There is no question.

All of this to say, all of the people on our site have something in common besides being Second – they didn’t just wake up being Second.

Colt McCoy started as a young kid probably throwing five yards at a time, but today, he can throw touchdown passes. Christ isn’t asking you to be perfect today, but He is asking you to just work at it with all that you can, to pursue excellence in Christ and to do it for Him.

One of my favorite quotes that Colt says in his video is that he didn’t want to be remembered for his touchdowns or for what he did on the field, but for the way he lived his life and for his actions. And after this national championship game, what are we all talking about? Right. The way he stood up for Christ in his quote after the game. It’s almost like he knew what he would be called to do.

How are you going to pursue excellence for Christ today? What in your life can you do for the Kingdom? Personally, I’m going to make phone calls, send emails, write blogs, and file papers…for Him. For you never know what or whom He might use to reflect His glory.

Start right now. Go shoot your free throws. Basketball season is upon us.