Success climb interrupted

Posted on 12. Apr, 2018 by in Christian high school, LA's westside, Lighthouse Christian Academy, principal

LCA new principalBy Levi Photenhauer, LCA sophomore –

Straight out of college, Josh Young worked for Veneklasen Associates, a transnational multimillion dollar sound engineering firm. He bought a house in Santa Monica for his beautiful bride and budding family.

Then all of sudden in 2012, he jumped from the corporate ladder and ditched his enviable success.

“I felt unfulfilled at the engineering firm. I wanted to make an impact in people. But that was not financially feasible until there was a miracle in my finances,” said young-looking LCA teacher. “My mortgage went down. Instead of saving more money, I decided to take a pay- and benefit cut to work for the church and school.”

josh young santa monicaNow, Josh Young is poised to take over the Lighthouse Christian Academy as principal, as long-time chief Jack Mefford steps aside to pursue his calling to start a church in Pismo Beach this June.

Some would say Josh sabotaged his own financial security, but he is completely happy with his decision for people over pay.

“I’m living the American dream,” he insisted. “Well, if it’s just money and moving up the corporate ladder, no, I don’t miss that. It was stressful. It was very demanding. I wasn’t happy. Coming over here to try to help people, I’m healthier, happier. I have more freedom with my time. I’m able to pursue more interests like being a chaplain.”

For two years now, Josh Young has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Lighthouse Church schools and other ministries. He was licensed as a pastor in 2002. He teaches government, guitar, economics and history at LCA.

And, he’s a chaplain for the Santa Monica Fire Department, which means he gets called out of the office (or his bed) whenever there’s a first-responder’s emergency and has to be on hand for victims of fire or a death in the family right in the moment of shock when tragedy just struck.

“It’s a great opportunity to help people that are experiencing very difficult moments in life. Usually it’s a death or a near-death, some life-altering event,” Josh said. “They are alone or scared, and just to be a compassionate person ministering to them and helping them is a privilege.”

santa monica fire dept chaplainHow did he get roped into the unpaid chaplaincy? As with most great things that great men do, his great wife signed him up.

“She worked in the Santa Monica UCLA emergency room, and firemen came by and said they were starting a chaplain program, and they asked her if her husband would be interested,” he related. “The next thing I know, I got a phone call and they wanted to meet and talk about being a chaplain.”

Getting yanked from bed for a 3:00 a.m. fire may not be fun, but he gets to wear a cool fireman hat.

Josh Young was a child of divorce. His mom moved him and his two sisters to Santa Monica. This may be hard to believe, but he was a rebellious kid.

As a punishment for misbehavior, he was forced to go to youth group at the Lighthouse Church.

sound system engineering santa monicaYup, that was the start of everything. (So don’t despair, parents, when your kids are disciplined.)

Ironically, his “punishment” led to friendships. He was in middle school and started making friends among the Lighthouse youth. This led to him accepting Jesus into his heart and becoming a disciple.

When he was about to enroll in high school, his mom asked: SaMoHi or LCA?

The rest is history.

As a scrawny freshman, he took PE, which at the time was working out with the football team. Weighing less than 100 pounds, Josh had absolutely no intention of playing 8-man varsity football with all the kid crushers in CIF’s Southern Section.

But before he knew it, he was being handed football pads and a helmet and found himself, bewildered and asking what happened, on the gridiron with guys three times his weight running at him and looking to crush him like an aluminum can.

“Let’s just say, I wasn’t a starter,” Josh recalled. “The greatest thing I did was I stopped a two-point conversion.”

LCA was going through something of a purge at the time with a slew of well-behaved kids being expelled or transferring out, so his graduating class in the year 2000 was a mere four students. (Josh likes to brag that he graduated among the top four.)

Among his God decisions after high school, Josh bailed on the estrogen environment of his mom and sisters and moved into Pastor Rob Scribner’s house in north Santa Monica. It was a huge house, and Pastor Rob was discipling a number of live-in rising Christian stars. The boys were in the attic.

“It was the opportunity to see a whole Christian family environment,” he said. “It was the first time I had brothers. That was a life changing time.”

Living in Pastor Rob’s house also brought Josh the love of his life. He never really presumed to think he could marry Pastor Rob’s daughter, the blue-eyed blond with a drive to serve God. He thought she would make a fantastic wife but ruled himself out of the running.

But Jessica was observing his growing Christian character. There were suitors aiming to land her, but Jessica kept thinking they didn’t measure up to Josh. Eventually, she realized she needed to show some interest. They married when he was 22 and today they have three kids with shock blond hair.

He was the youth group pastor for eight years.

Josh picked up a second love at Pastor Rob’s house: the guitar. In the attic, there were quite a number of musically-inclined guys. Guitars lay everywhere, so Josh began to strum them in his free time. Today, he plays worship regularly at the Lighthouse and teaches students.

“It’s very fulfilling because you can see that you actually did make a difference,” he said. “They couldn’t do that before, and then you can see the tangible skill of the student going from playing nothing to then playing on the worship team.”

Josh actually started his audio engineering job when he was high school. His mom worked for the firm, and so she got him a starting position assisting in the office. When he went to college, one of the department bosses thought they were under-utilizing him as a go-for.

He saw that Josh was intelligent and curious. So he started training him in audio-visual systems engineering.

Josh graduated from UCLA with history major and a minor in political science, but he worked in a totally unrelated field that he had never studied.

Since coming to Lighthouse to work, Josh has executed some unqualified coups. His first was to complete the massive amount of paperwork required for LCA’s re-accreditation in 2012.

Then he applied for approval from the U.S. State Department for Lighthouse to issue student visas to receive “parachute” students from abroad. That was a financial boon for the school.

Then in the Fall of 2015 the irreplaceable Pastor Peter Czer left church administration to work for an investment company. Pastor Josh was called upon to take over accounting, payroll, reporting, human resources and denomination-related administration.

Josh had administered his own finances since high school. He worked and paid his way through college. Now as administrator for the Lighthouse Church, he saw how many members struggled paycheck to paycheck and tithed sporadically.

He felt he could help. So he taught Dave Ramsey’s Financial Freedom seminar, a Christian stewardship program that helps people administer their finances to be able to save for the future and bless others.

For now, Josh is the new face of Lighthouse.

“Working at the school is fulfilling because I get to teach students,” he said. “You see people improve and become more whole and complete.”

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