My First Day of School

Even though it’s been over a decade since I graduated High School, I still remember that feeling of the first day of school like it was yesterday…

  • Freshly stocked book-bag  
  • New haircut 
  • 40 lb. math textbook that would primarily serve as a prop 
  • Class schedule laminated to the front of my notebook with a special note from my mom reminding me that no matter what those girls at school thought of me, I’d always be #1 in her book 

Although I’ve graduated and grown up into “real life”, I’m reliving the back-to-school feeling this week. After receiving the call earlier in the year to help with a church plant, the time has finally arrived to transition out from the church where I’ve served the past several years, and begin from square one at my new outpost.

Yesterday, I had my first day in the offices of Next Level Church, and the back-to-school moments were nearly endless:

#1 - Though I didn’t get to scope out where the “cool table” was in the cafeteria, I did partake in a staff meeting to the backdrop of the lunch rush at Chick-Fil-A.

That’s right… for those of you unacquainted with‘s weekly Next Level Church updates, being in the early stages of the church plant means not having office space yet… hence meeting in a local fast-food restaurant with free Wi-Fi. There were no food fights, but the attendant did put a little extra gusto into his delivery when tossing me a complimentary after-dinner mint.

#2 -I did not get to ride a fancy yellow bus, but I was given personal chauffeur service from one campus to another, i.e. I was driven from Chick-Fil-A to Chipotle in Rob’s VW. Again, you can’t beat the deal these people give you on office space.

#3 - Though I didn’t catch up and swap summer vacation tales with friends, I did swap conspiracy theories with Rob about how in the world Team Ricky took down Team Rob in the 2nd Annual Blogging All-Star Challenge. It’s kind of hard to explain, but long-story short- there was a second shooter.

In all seriousness, there was definitely an excitement in my first day on the job that can only be compared to that “first day of school” feeling. There was a buzz in the air serving as a reminder that God is at work in brand new ways. There was an eagerness to dig in and get dirty doing something for the first time, and to learn what God has in store. There was a nervousness to leave the familiar, traveling from the nostalgic into what God has planned next.

And I’d have it no other way. I’m grateful this week to walk into a new adventure, held up on the shoulders of those who have loved me and graciously allowed me to walk into this new season, full of anticipation about what the future holds.

Do you remember the “first day of school” feeling? Any first day memories that you specifically recall?

  • Daniel Carman

    I know the feelings that you are talking about. I tend to really hate change and new things. But you are handling it like a bearded trooper. Remember though, the cool kids ride in the back of the bus. Welcome.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks, Dan!
      Ha, yeah, I totally tried but it was creepin’ Rob out.

  • Phil

    My mom still tells me that about the girls. Lol

    Good luck sir in your new adventure in the Father, may it prove to be exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ask or think.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      :) Hey, there’s a lot of mean girls out there. Mom’s gotta represent…

      Thanks for the kind words, Phil!

  • austingilly

    I’m excited for you man! And if it helps at all, I totally voted for you guys. Don’t tell Kevin. 

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks for the encouragement, Austin. You rock.
      And thanks for the vote! :) Your secret is safe with me.

  • Bill (cycleguy)

    Although I am way too old to remember my first day, I am excited to hear about your new “digs’ and that you will be helping NLC become a “force” for God.  

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Mighty kind of you, Bill! Thanks for the love.

  • Loren Pinilis

    I can remember telling everyone I knew where I was going and what I was doing, then arriving at school and having no clue. I guess that’s pretty much my life in a way, haha.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Ha- nice! That’s quite introspective of you, Loren. 

  • Tyler Hess

    gonna get faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Ha, I know. Much like school, I’m going to have to start packing my own lunch and not eating the “caf” food…

  • Larry Carter

    I’m excited about you guys working together. I did live vicariously through my kids going back to school yesterday. And about them winning, there were two IT professionals on this particular grassy knoll. :)

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks a lot, Larry! I’m excited to work with

      Grassy knoll, ha… I’m pointin’ no fingers. I lost fair and square… but what’s the fun if you can’t spin it into a JFK-esque conspiracy?

    • Chad Jones

      Um, hey, uh, Larry–you insinuating something here? ;-p

      All’s fair in love, and blogging competitions.


      I’m kidding.

      • Larry Carter


  • Rob Shepherd

    This was glorious. I like the “Next Level Church” on the side of the bus. Yesterday was awesome. Love having you as a part of the team!

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks, Rob Shep. It was a fantastic first day. Thanks for showing me around the office.

  • Amber

    Stephen, if you wanted the school bus feeling.  I have noticed at the church a short gray and red bus.  Maybe we could take you for a spin.  Not sure how you would feel about riding in the SHORT BUS.  
    I love this blog post.  
    I try not to remember any first day of school memories.  I do remember my first meeting at NLC.  I wasn’t sure what I was getting involved with, but I knew what God had spoken to me and my husband.  I still get the gitters every Monday morning.  I am just excited to see what God is going to do, and learn how to be a better “unofficial” staff member.  
    Glad to have you with us.  

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Haha… I’d love to take old gray and red. Maybe we can purchase that and make the Next Level Mobile? 

      Thanks for the kind welcome. I definitely had some goosebump moments yesterday, and sure appreciate the wonderful staff I was able to hang out with! Very glad to be on board.

  • Adrian Waller

    I definitely remember, as I’m about to begin my first day of graduate school next week. I’m a bit terrified, but after having a million other “first days,” I know it all works out in the end. Just with “the end” would get here sooner. =)

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Congrats on starting grad school, Adrian! That sure was timely with this post :)
      Good luck on getting to “the end” in winning fashion.

  • JJ

    Love this post.. I don’t recall any back to school jitters. I remember my son’s first day transitioning from private to public school in 7th grade. It was very scary for both of us.
    Believe it or not I used to drive a school bus.
    So happy to have you at NLC!

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks a lot, JJ!
      That’s awesome about your school bus driving past… If we get a Next Level bus we already have a driver! :) Very glad to be at NLC- thanks again for the kind welcome.

  • jasonS

    I remember the first day of 7th grade particularly well because I was completely freaked out about having to change classes. I wondered if I would be able to make it to my locker and back. I obsessed for weeks before hand and nearly had a panic attack, which of course, was stupid because it wasn’t a big deal and I figured it all out within a couple days. I’ll never forget that feeling though!

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Wow… I think that’s a pretty great analogy of living in fear in general! We’ve all been there, only to realize there was nothing to be afraid of in the first place.
      Oh, the 7th grade! :)

  • Ken Hagerman

    I already pointed out my envy to Rob on Sunday. I must ask are there any more positions available at Next Level Chipotle, uh, Church? I really could an office  with a view of my favorite restaurant. I mean, I could really get into ministry there, or something like that. I can’t wait to read all the “Look what God did’s” from your move there.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Haha… you’re awesome, Ken.

      Even though I don’t have the authority to say this, I’m pretty sure we can make up whatever position it would take to get you on board (“Pastor of Satirical Missionary Prose”?).
      Thanks a lot for the encouragement and kind words. It’s so stinking exciting to follow Him into something like this.

  • Lisa K.

    Welcome to you and Brooke, Stephen! We are blessed to have you at Next Level!


    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks, Lisa! We’re both incredibly excited to be a part of things at NLC.

  • Arny

    Man, i haven’t had that feeling in a loooooooong time….i do get a little bit of that feeling when I go to a new church to play and lead worship….but it’s been a while.

    Congrats on the new J.O.B!

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Would love to see you lead worship one day, Arny!

  • Dan Black

    Man, it’s also been close to 10 years since High School and I don’t remember anything about the first day or days. Maybe the green grass was the cause to that one.

    Looking forward to hearing about your adventures at your new job. Congratulations! 

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks, Dan! Probably better you’re not dwelling too much on the past :)

  • Ricky Anderson

    2nd shooter?

    We only get credit for two?

    Pfft. There were hundreds.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Like most conspiracy theories, we may never know the real story. 2? 200? The point is, we were had, and my life-long dream of being a blogging all-star champion was dashed.

  • Shay

    Ahhhhh yes I remember it well…the first day of high school…getting egged in the back of the head right after my last class of the day. Oh could have been could have been before the first class of the day :) lol Nothing quite like Freshman initiation! 
    We are blessed to have you and Brooke at Next Level Stephen.  May the Holy Spirit fill your hearts and minds with joy, absolutely and totally,as you lead us in worship.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks, Shay! I really appreciate the prayers and encouragement.
      And I’m sorry to hear about the egging! :/ Those upperclassmen are just ruthless…

  • Chad Jones

    Stephen, it’s awesome to see two of my favorite bloggers tag-teaming IRL for the Kingdom.

    I remember a time when I was insanely nervous about having to stand in front of my class to recite the Gettysburg Address. So much so that my dad had to threaten dire consequences if I didn’t go to school.

    • Stephen Haggerty

      Thanks, Chad! I had to look up IRL, but yes, I’d say Rob and I are totally going to do some Indy Racing for the Kingdom… Oh wait, different IRL?

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