For Shelby Abbott, it’s life as usual. He’s still a devoted husband to Rachael, a loving father to his daughters, Quinn and Hayden, and a music enthusiast.
Shelby’s new Christian podcast, however, is not usual. Real Life Loading… will shake the young adult generation as he cuts through the BS of surface-level Christianity, getting straight to the Scriptures and talking about the actual issues of this world.
Meeting Jesus on the bathroom floor
But before he ever met Rachael or even dreamed of being a dad, author, and podcast host, there was a clarifying moment where Shelby met Jesus on the bathroom floor. But we need to rewind a little to understand the full story.
Shelby was never a party animal; he never did drugs or slept around.
“I was something much more dangerous,” he says. “My danger was in thinking I was good. I believed I was straight with God because I was a good kid.”
According to every worldly standard, he was. He didn’t rebel against his parents. Teachers and adults loved him. But the pride of being a good kid caused him to think he was better than everyone else around him.
That is, until he heard a message from a guest speaker at his weekly college Bible study.
“I was confronted with the fact that I needed to repent of my good works,” he reflects. “I needed to repent of the belief that God loved me because I was a good person. I walked out of worship, went into the bathroom, and pulled out a gospel presentation booklet called Knowing God Personally, and prayed the prayer in the back. I said, ‘God, I’m good, but I’m not there. Help me to become the person you want me to be.’”
All of a sudden, being a Christian felt a whole lot easier.
Not that Shelby is afraid of a challenge. His love of doing hard things comes from a conversation with his college small-group leader. Actually, it was more of a statement. “You have so much stinking potential … if you’d just live up to it!”
It wounded him in a good way. For his whole life, the bar was set too low. The idea of raising it for the sake of himself had simply never occurred. If you could jump the bar easily, why raise it?
A new Christian podcast: Why Real Life Loading…?
Raising the bar to give our very best to God is one of the things Shelby’s most excited to talk about in this new Christian podcast. He was blessed to have someone stand before him and say “How much more can you be?” For the young adults who don’t have someone in their life to challenge, encourage, and expect great things from them, Shelby hopes to be that person.
When he was younger, he wanted to know, “Is anybody going to throw their arm around me and be a trusted friend?” And “Who is willing to actually get on my level and talk straight to me about the things plaguing our generation today?”
Shelby’s own young-adult experience combined with more than two decades of working in college ministry are the driving forces behind Real Life Loading…. But why the name?
As Shelby says, we’re all in a state of loading. We’re all in progress.
“We’re all Padawans training to be Jedi,” he explains. “The secret is that we will never be Jedi but will always stay Padawan. Our never-changing Padawan status is because there’s only one Jedi and He is Jesus. We can get a little ahead, but we will never arrive. The only person who has become a Jedi is Jesus.”
Shelby doesn’t want to be the only person involved in his listeners’ lives. In his own words, he wants to be a vitamin, giving his listeners a little boost without being their main source of community. For the vital community component of life, he wants listeners to rely on the real, physical, shoulder-to-shoulder relationships with family and friends.
Why I listen to Real Life Loading…
Real Life Loading… is different from any other Christian podcast for young adults because of the perfect blend of deep, serious, and insanely funny.
I never would have learned what a “Premium McChubble” is had it not been for Shelby. (Listen to episode one if you have no idea what I’m talking about.) . But he also talks about biblical truths in a way that’s deep, rich, and engaging but not always so serious. He is definitely walking the talk in a way I was pleasantly shocked to discover.
As an 18-year-old, spending the first five minutes of a Christian podcast listening to a Taylor Swift fan rant from the podcaster and his guest was totally unexpected. But then Shelby’s guest, Heather Holleman, took it a step further by seamlessly translating fangirling over Taylor Swift into evangelism today.
In the second episode, Shelby and Sam Allberry dove into a topic any young adult (or person in general) has struggled with at one point or another: the discomfort we have in our bodies. Their talk ranged from self-image struggles (like weight, for example) to Sam’s story of feeling attracted to the same sex and how he has been called to celebrate singleness and find community in his church family instead of romantic relationships.
Not many Christian podcasts talk about such a heavy topic as same-sex attraction, let alone on their second episode.
Life may be usual for Shelby, but I think life for his listeners will soon become anything but usual as we learn to hear God’s voice, head back to the Scriptures, and raise our personal bars to become all God has created us to be.
To listen, go to wherever you find your podcasts and follow Real Life Loading… Or listen on the FamilyLife app. New episodes are released each Friday. And don’t forget to follow @RealLifeLoading on Instagram.
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Chloe Whiteford is a writing intern for FamilyLife at Cru headquarters in Orlando, Florida. Her home base is McEwen, Tennessee. Regardless of where she is, you can most likely find her in her kitchen baking something (hopefully) delicious.