“I went from feeling like I was achieving the American dream to having my whole world fall apart overnight,” said Colby Eldredge. “I had the college degree, the successful career, the sweet apartment, and the girlfriend. But then sales started drying up at work, and my long-term relationship ended. Everything I idolized was falling apart.
“I was at a real low point when a friend invited me to The Porch, Watermark’s ministry for young adults. I’d always treated God like a genie. I’d pray for something and then promise to read my Bible if He delivered. I felt uncomfortable at Watermark the first time I went. I knew my involvement with alcohol, drugs, women, and porn wasn’t in line with God’s Word, but I was so prideful I didn’t want to be confronted with that truth. So rather than moving toward the Lord, Whom I had known about my entire life, I jumped into another relationship.
“That relationship was extremely unhealthy, and the choices I made as it ended demonstrated just how depraved my heart was. My life was all about my needs, and I knew that was wrong, so I eventually took steps to return to the Lord.
“I was still partying Thursday through Sunday, then coming to The Porch on Tuesdays, but it was exhausting to live in both worlds. After hearing a message on Matthew 7:15-18, I realized I was not the man I wanted to be, and that I was not producing any good fruit in my life. At home that night, I told God I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I surrendered everything – my life, my job, my relationships, my money – to the Lord because I was tired of running. That’s the night I trusted my life to Christ and asked Him to take me, break me, and make me look more like Him.
“The Lord helped me change my playmates and playground. I got connected and into community with other believers here at Watermark. I started serving in Frontlines and also went through re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. That’s where the Lord placed more men in my life to help me grow. I met a guy on staff, Josh Thames, who taught me about what it meant to follow Christ. It was still a daily struggle against pride, perfectionism, and lust, but God used my community group to hold me accountable. I learned the value of confession and repentance and was thankful for friends who encouraged me as I grew in Christ.
“I’m the last guy you would have picked to lead Watermark’s Crossroads Ministry for fourth and fifth graders. I got involved because my roommate was looking for a co-leader for his small group of boys. The first time I worked with those kids I was so uncomfortable, but it turned out to be fun. They literally hung on every word as we talked about the Bible. At the end, some of the boys asked if I would come back again, and I quickly responded, ‘Absolutely!’ Obviously, I had to come back because I just told them I would, and God used the opportunity to serve fourth and fifth graders to grow my relationship with Him.
“I had been leading in Kids’ Ministry for a couple of years when I was asked about coming on staff to lead the Crossroads45 ministry fulltime. At the time I had a very wellpaying job. But as I prayed about the new job offer and talked to my community group about it, I read the story of the Rich Young Ruler. If God asked me to, would I be willing to give away my kingdom, my money, and my territory to make His name more famous?
“The decision to join Watermark’s staff opened up many conversations with former coworkers about finding my identity, not in what I owned or where I worked, but in the Lord. I didn’t have to work in fulltime ministry to be effective for Christ, but this is where God led me. The Lord slowly chipped away from the fleeting things I put my identity in and reminded me that nothing else will ever satisfy the way Christ does.
“Our lessons on godly character traits are just as relevant to adults as they are to a fourth or fifth grader. When I was that age, I viewed God as a cosmic killjoy who kept me away from fun stuff. Our kids know that the Bible is a bunch of smaller stories that point to the one-big-true story of God’s rescue plan of His people through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. They also know that following Christ is the most fun adventure ever, and I have learned that right along with them.
“Today the kids I met when I first started serving in Crossroads are now moving into junior high. Because I didn’t follow Christ until I was a young adult, I have more scars from sin than these kids will have if they continue living faithfully with the Lord. My prayer is that they will understand that we have a Savior who loves us and offers us a better life than anything we could plan ourselves. It’s a privilege to share that message with our next generation of leaders every week.”