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stupid facebook ad

I had a rough day at work. I’m a claims adjuster, which is actually a very rewarding job – I help people who are hurting. Ususally their house has burned up or the water heater popped and flooded them out. I’m not bragging – I’m just telling you straight up if something like that happens to you, you want me as your adjuster. I will put you back the way you were before, quickly, efficiently. I’ll take the majority of the stress of it all completely off you. That’s what I do and I do it well.

My heart, though – it longs for something else. I don’t think about it much because it actually makes me sad when I do. I used to be a pastor. When I’m in a joking mood, I tell everyone I’m a claims adjuster, which is basically the same job as a pastor, it just pays more. I miss it. When I sit and think about it, I remember all the good times, all the people I’ve met and who have allowed me to be a part of their lives. I really miss it – even the hard stuff like funerals, hospitals, jails…I just miss it.

I was the same kind of pastor as I am a claims adjuster. That right there was the problem I think.

I came home tonight after a really long day, got out the computer and got on facebook and to the right where the ads are, I saw the picture above, with the caption, “47 and ready to be a pastor? Earn a degree at a Christian college!”

I already did. I already was a pastor. I did everything I could to bear everyone else’s heavy load, and I just about killed myself doing it. There’s a big difference between calling a local contractor crazy because he can’t add up his estimate right (or even spell most of the time) and being all things to all people all the time.

I was on 24/7. At one church I even lived right across the street from the church building. People just drop by, or someone can’t get in, or the alarm goes off, or so on and so forth.

For 15 years I was everything to everyone. I should have been pointing them to Jesus. I should have been teaching them to stand on their own. All I did for those years was tighten up training wheels, AKA enable codependency.

Yes, I preached, I taught, I led. Looking back, compared to what I know now, it was incomplete, immature. I can’t go back in time and teach myself what I didn’t know. But I can do it differently moving forward.

Believe it or not, I’ve learned a lot about people and ministry being a claims adjuster. A big part of my job is to take as much on myself as I can. That’s the job. But I always take time to educate people – here are your options, here’s what your policy says, this is what I need you to do for yourself.

I tell people exactly what to expect, and then with them make it happen. I don’t push it back on them – I empower them to do it – I give them permission to help themselves. It makes people feel good, too. I get great feedback and try to help the people around me at work see that they don’t have to, and really can’t, bear the whole thing on their own.

That’s what the church I am a member of has done for me. I am responsible for my own spiritual growth. Not my pastor, not my wife, not the teacher in a class I go to on a Wednesday night. That’s what I need to do for others going forward – make them see they are powerful children of God – they can have their very own relationship with him, they can pray, they can study his word, they can minister – all on their own.

Do I still want to be a pastor? Is water wet? Do bears bear? Do bees be? Uh, yeah! And I think when the time is right, I will be.

Back to the Present

March 30, 2012 — 3 Comments

Several years back, I was an associate pastor in a church.  I was mostly a student minister, but I had several other responsibilities.  I had been in student ministry for about 12 years at that point, and to be honest, for several years before that, I had felt God calling me to something different, but it scared me to death, so I just kept doing what I had always known – it was easy, I had a routine, I got results.

The real reason that I didn’t pursue what God was calling me to do was because of something in my past.  What I didn’t know at the time was, the past was about to massively pile up on me and bring about a wilderness experience that would last the next 5 years.

It goes back to 1994.  I had just resigned from my first church, and was in the process of being divorced from my first wife.  There’s a lot to tell about that, and I may do it at some other point.  Suffice it to say we were both in the wrong.  Maybe I was more wrong.  I don’t know.  All I knew is that if I were to ever get married again, I would do it differently.

Fast forward several years to the already mentioned staff position, I was married, had a sweet little daughter, and was miserable.  I hadn’t learned anything, really.  I didn’t allow healing to occur from that past trauma.  I never talked to anyone about it, and I brought all that into the present.

One day, during a staff meeting at my church, the pastor announced he was firing several staff people, including me.  He said he wanted a fresh start with new people.  So I packed up and left, and started sending out resumes.  So I could start the cycle all over again.  But God had a different plan.

I had a lot of interviews at some pretty amazing churches, and in many instances, it came down between me and some other person.  They always chose the other person.  I started sending my resume out to smaller churches.  I was thinking they would be thinking they would be getting a bargain – someone with my experience, willing to work for close to nothing.  Most of them never even called me back.  Over qualified maybe?  Or God’s plan?

Somewhere along the way we tried a church plant, which went well until it didn’t.  Then we ended up at a totally different church – hurt, confused, scared, alone.

During those years, I turned and ran from God, from what He was trying to teach me.  I didn’t want to hear it.  I wanted familiar, I wanted safe, I wanted things to be like they were before.  But they couldn’t be.  I had been hurt too deeply, and to be honest, in my last church staff experience, I was basically limping along, relying on my own strength.

But this new church – it was something different.  Something special.  Exactly what I needed and exactly where God wanted me and my family, so that we could learn who God really is, what He is really like, how He really feels about us.

Two years later I am a totally different person.  I am being healed.  I am seeing how my past failures, hurts, sins can be redeemed.  What I learned is, God doesn’t want to use me, he wants to know me.  He wants me to know Him and trust Him and He wants me to run to Him and seek shelter in Him and rely on Him for everything.  I’m learning to do that, and He has given me my ministry, but in a totally unexpected way.

Do I still want to work for a church – yes!  Will I be able to?  I believe so.  Am I ready?  I believe so!  Am I scared?  Yes.  Yes I am.  But I am going to take that step, resting in Him, and I will trust Him to put me where He wants me, so that my past can be redeemed in my present, so that the future of others can be wrapped in His grace.

What have you not trusted God with?  What from your past is eating away your present?  And how can you learn to give all that to the only One who can purchase the terrible things that have happened and give you a beautiful future in exchange?