Tim Selby

Touching the lives of local youth


— Tim Selby's kids have graduated from high school and college, pursued jobs in the real world and found true love. They are athletes, artists, musicians and accomplished speakers. Some have been to the prom. Not all of them have their drivers' licenses.

But all of them have plenty to say about the man who has invested so much of his life in their own.

"To me, working with young people is an especially important role," Tim said. "What I hope to do is inspire young people to do great things with their lives."

Selby, the pastoral associate at Steamboat Springs United Methodist Church, and his wife, Kristin, have two children of their own, 7-year-old Jessie and 5-year-old Brendan.

But the youth pastor is a father figure to dozens of teenagers in town.

"He's like a second dad," 18-year-old Brandy Carlson said.

Carlson and her peers have been under Selby's wing since the sixth grade.

Every Wednesday night they have dinner, play games and have a "serious talk," according to one youngster.

Games often entail eating mass quantities of baby food and passing a frozen trout around the room-- a fishy spin on the game of hot potato.

The scheming teens once made Selby a pie in return. The ingredient list included baby food and other goodies, 17-year-old Carter Dunham said.

Selby graciously accepted the pie but didn't take a bite.

A recent youth group gathering included a lasagna dinner. As the students filled up on pasta, bread and salad, Selby broke in to describe their activity for the evening.

He wanted the young people to take 50 minutes to reflect on what was going in their lives and their world. There would be no talking. People don't take enough opportunities for silence and reflection, he explained.

Their time of personal reflection was rewarded with an ice cream run at the end of the evening.

Selby hoped the exercise stuck and pricked the youngsters' hearts.

"There are a lot of forces in our culture that force kids to look cool or to be cool, and we want to challenge them to greatness," he said.

Selby felt his spiritual calling at a young age.

"I wanted to do something meaningful with my life, and the realm of faith seemed to me to be it," he said. "It was a natural choice for me."

He took several trips to Steamboat as a child and moved here after graduation, met Kristin and worked as a hospital chaplain for a few years.

The couple left Steamboat, but didn't stay away too long.

He accepted a part-time job at United Methodist and eventually fell into full-time pastoral work.

Today he leads adult groups and retreats as well as the youth.

The wide range of ministries keeps him on his toes, although he admits his Wednesday night crew is the toughest crowd.

"The work I do with young people is a lot more difficult than the work I do with adults," he said.

His kids are thankful the challenge hasn't deterred him.

"He's made a big difference," 17-year-old Eddie Van Baak said. "He's always encouraging and always challenging us to do new things and push ourselves a little bit."

Selby's newest project is the church's new 11 a.m. Sunday service.

"There are a lot of folks who are young coming through looking for things, and hopefully we can connect with some of those people," he said.

The Rev. Larry Oman said Selby is a dynamic speaker who effectively reaches his audience -- whether it's Sunday churchgoers or youth.

And he understands the importance of including others in his ministry, Oman said.

"He always got a team of ... adults to work with the youth," he said. "It's not just a pied piper sort of thing."

Selby sees the value of strength in numbers. He has helped to coordinate an interfaith gathering to remember Sept. 11 and an ecumenical walk to observe the events leading up to the crucifixion.

He would like to see deepened relationships not only among different Christian denominations but also among different faith communities.

"There's a lot of deep faith in the community," he said. "Faith communities are really the backbone of a healthy community."

Selby's desire to learn why people hold different beliefs drew him back to school a few years ago. A doctorate program at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland, Calif., allowed him to study the arts and sciences with students from teaching, medical, artistic and scientific backgrounds.

"It's a place that taps the wisdom of the world's religious traditions," he said.

The experience strengthened his own faith and reinforced God's universal qualities.

"The more you look at anything, you can't look at something and not find Him," he said.

Those who have worked with Selby would say the same about him.

Peggy Mulvihill, a former youth pastor at Holy Name Catholic Church, said Selby's passion for youth is a reflection of his passion for God.

Countless youth have crossed Selby's path during his 10 years with United Methodist Church.

And even after the teens graduate and move on, they still welcome his presence in their lives.

Three former youth group members asked him to officiate their weddings this summer.

Their offers make him feel old, Selby jokes.

Another class of seniors will move on this spring.

They will miss him, 17-year-old Megan Mistr said.

But the veteran youth pastor is modest about his work with young people.

"They think I'm pretty cool because I'm not Dad," he said.

With one exception.

"He can't sing," Van Baak said. "We always joke about that."

Selby takes the criticism gracefully and focuses on doing what he does best.

"You've got one life here," he said. "Make it count. Do something important and meaningful with it."


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