This academic year, our theme is “Real: with God, ourselves, and others”.
In keeping with that theme, the following spotlight is on one of our alumni who was gracious to tell his story candidly, sharing his experience with despair and feelings of rejection, and how he was able to reach the point of restoration. Our desire is that his story will offer hope to anyone facing similar circumstances. The hope that the journey from desperation to restoration is possible through Christ!
A few years ago, Ron Young (TBC grad ’07 and ’23) and his family were looking forward to a new season of ministry.
Expecting a season of positive growth and fulfillment, it came as a shock to experience the opposite. The disillusionment of stepping out in faith only to be met with human rejection felt like a personal failure and betrayal.
Unmet expectations are difficult, especially when coupled with feelings of failure.
Ron says his life perspective began to shift in a negative direction when he began to internalize the pressures of failed expectations. He took the choices of others as his own personal failure.
A little over a year later, Ron was (unexpectedly) offered an administrative position at the school and ministry from where they had originally moved. Even though he accepted the offer, Ron says that instead of feeling reinvigorated, he felt a compounding of the negative mentality he was already fighting.
“I started to deal with the thought of ‘what are people going to think?’ I felt like I couldn’t cut it in church ministry so now I was falling back on something else.”
As he and his family settled back into life in Mississippi, Ron continued to war against the feelings of failure that loomed at every turn.
The school was growing, his family was engaged in ministry, and on the surface everything looked great for a time. But internal struggles eventually show external signs, and he began to battle insomnia, anxiety attacks, and other symptoms he had never experienced before.
“Even though things were going well, my inner personal life was not where it needed to be. I was angry and upset. There was a little gap between God and me that over time grew into a big gap.”
“…my big issue was I got my eyes off of God and on myself. My perspective shifted inward. It all became a pity-party. A ‘Why is this happening to me?’ kind of thing. Eventually it just got to the point where I felt dead inside all the time. At my lowest point I started to believe that maybe my kids and wife would have more success without me in the picture…”
Thankful that at his lowest he found hope, Ron identifies two key moments that helped him reach a turning point from desperation to restoration.
One was the day he heard someone say, “You can fail at a lot of things and make it, but you can’t fail at this one thing: your personal relationship with God”.
That phrase struck a chord with him and the Holy Spirit used it to draw attention to what was really going on.
“I realized I was consumed by everything except the one thing that mattered most. The Holy Spirit was saying, ‘You’re not your best as a dad; you’re not your best as a husband; you’re not your best at your workplace; there is truth to that. But that is because you’re not walking with me — not because you’re a failure.’ That was eye opening for someone who has been in ministry for so long and been a Christian for so long. It’s humbling, very humbling to find yourself in that position.”
Another key moment was when he intentionally reached out for help.
Ron recalls when he finally asked for help, he found a listening ear and “a whole lot of grace” in a friend and counselor, Jim Urban (’07).
“I called Jim and unburdened myself to him in a way that I never had before… what I got in response was not what I expected. I can be pretty judgmental, so I expected to get that right back. Instead, I heard, ‘yes, there are some things in your life that you need to get right and you need to face, but you’re not alone’. That open honesty with another brother in Christ who was far enough removed from the situation to see it objectively… that was the building block that I needed.”
The restoration of his relationship with God was the starting point.
The result has been an ongoing trickle-down effect that continues to transform other areas of his life.
With the help of counseling and frank conversations, Ron’s mindset, thought processes, and even physical symptoms began to experience healing. Spiritual restoration and growth became evident to others through the shift in his perspective. This growth, in turn, further developed his insight, allowing him to learn much from his experiences.
Reflecting on all he has learned, Ron encapsulates it with two main ideas: the importance of genuine relationships and a warning about defensiveness.
He emphasizes that especially in times of extreme discouragement or depression, we must be open with others and we must be willing to accept accountability from others without taking it as a personal attack.
“We tend to get offended so easily. Part of the problem is that even those closest to us aren’t sure if they can say ‘Hey – I’ve noticed a change. Is everything ok?’ without us getting defensive. I know if one of my friends had come to me, I would have gotten defensive.
On the flip side, you have to ask yourself are you willing to be that person for someone else? It’s a two-way street! If we are truly living out Galatians 6:1-2, we will bear each other’s burdens. And that leads to restoration!”
Under Ron’s leadership, Collegiate Christian Academy continues to grow.
In addition to academics, the school offers fine arts and athletic programs, positively impacting the surrounding community through through Christ-centered, well-rounded education.
Ron recently completed his master’s degree in Educational Leadership, further developing his skills in preparation for future growth. He is also a regular contributor to The Middlings, a blog originally launched by two fellow TBC alumni pastors, Ben Hyrne (’10) and Stephen Sapp (’09). You can read more about Ron’s story in his July 2023 post here.
Ron and Erin Young live in Gulfport, Mississippi, with their four children. Both work at Christian Collegiate Academy, Erin as an English teacher, and Ron as the upper division principal.