Steve Janicello. Where do I begin with this guy? Steve became my Youth Pastor when I was about 16. After the Youth Pastor from my family’s church left I got my license and began hopping around to different churches looking for new girls. I found myself attending Youth Quake and dating a girl there for a while. When she dumped me I wanted to leave and run off to the next spot but Steve wouldn’t have it. “Scot, trees don’t grow on wheels.” he said. Steve was the king of these one liners that God used to shift the trajectories of young men’s lives. I stayed at Youth Quake and found myself under Steve’s wing as sort of a mentee but more like a son. Honestly, I don’t know anyone who came through that ministry that didn’t see Steve as a dad.
As I look back over this journey he seems to appear at the most pivotal moments. He gave me my first job as an adult, he drove me to the hospital from the site of an accident I was in, he helped me stay grounded when a girl broke my heart, he took me through a rite of passage and gave me my first nickname, he invested in my musical talents, he gave me my first worship leading and preaching opportunities, he pushed me towards honesty when my life crashed in 2009, and he challenged me with some of the most valuable lessons I have come through. The best thing about Steve is that he always let me be me. I never felt like I had to pretend with him.
One of my favorite moments with Steve happened after I had taken some leadership roles at Youth Quake. At the time I was working at a local pub called “Ham’s” as a waiter and leading worship for the Wednesday night youth gatherings. One day I was on break behind the restaurant smoking a cigarette and chatting with my coworkers when Steve rolled up in his Orange Honda Element. As a leader in the student ministry I knew that I shouldn’t be smoking and that Steve would disapprove and so as he pulled up I struggled with what to do. I knew he had already seen me so there was no point in trying to hide it so I just held the cigarette down by my side as he pulled up and rolled down his window. We chatted for a few minutes about nothing and then he was on his way.
The thing that seemed strange to me was that he didn’t say anything about the smoking. I suppose I thought he would mention it or reprimand me or something, but he said nothing. Did he not see me? Did he not care? I had no answers. As Sunday rolled around I knew that I would see him at our Youth Quake student leadership meetings and so I thought he might mention it there or that I would see something on the agenda like...
Leading by Example - Why smoking is bad
It didn’t happen. Got through the whole meeting and not a word. I went into his office afterwards and we talked some more...nothing. Wednesday came and we practiced our songs, went through the service, and hung out at IHOP afterwards and still, he said nothing.
This went on for a week or two. Me anticipating a reprimand and him acting like nothing had ever happened. Finally it got to the point that I was going crazy about it so I decided to just ask him.
“Steve, I’m pretty sure you saw me smoking the other day when you came by my work.”
“Are you okay with me smoking?”
“Then why haven’t you said anything to me about it?”
“Lizzie, what could I have said that would make you stop? You can’t change your actions until you change your desires.”
And there is was. A Steve Janicello truth bomb with my name on it.
As I began to walk through recovery from my sex addiction this principle came up time and time again. I had to want to be healthy and whole more than I wanted the quick release of pornography and masturbation. I had to want a long lasting, God honoring relationship more than I wanted the instant gratification of a sexual encounter. I had to desire Jesus more than I desired earthly companionship.
What is it that you want to change? What desires need to shift in order to make that change possible? Share your thoughts in the comments below!