Posts tagged ‘Pastor’

Follow the Leader

It’s been hard for me to ever think of myself as a leader. I have never thought that I had the “it” factor that great leaders possessed. I don’t have what I consider to be an electric personality. I’m not an extrovert, preferably a wallflower rather than the life of the party. It’s not that no one ever told me that I could never be a leader. In reality, I’ve been told all of my life that I had the potential to be a great leader. Others saw it in me, but I just could not see it in myself. Part of the reason was that I was comparing what I saw in others to what I did not see in myself. It seems that God has really been deconstructing my own self image here lately. A good friend of mine, Dan Clark, once told me during a breakfast meeting that I should embrace the things about myself that I did not do well. At that point, I didn’t really grasp the power of what he was saying. I figured that because I didn’t do the things well that I saw other great leaders do well, I could never be a leader; not even considering becoming an effective Pastor. Our series in church has been dealing with breaking bad habits and cycles in our lives, and the last 4 weeks have dealt especially with breaking the spirits of comparison and poor mental workings. As a result of really allowing these things to sink in, plus having some real eye opening time at our staff meeting over this weekend, I am beginning to see the uniqueness in the way God has created me to lead. It doesn’t look like my Pastor in many ways, any Pastor that I’ve ever sat under. It doesn’t look like our Youth Pastors, or anyone that I see on television. I’m me, and in the past I’ve spent so much time ripping myself for NOT being the people whose lives I looked up to and admired. However, instead of focusing so much on my weaknesses and deficiencies, I am really beginning to see how my strengths can be used by God to be an effective leader.

I have always wanted to be a leader, but the issue has not been with what I was created to be, but rather how I saw who God has created me to be. In the light of respecting and esteeming his creative work in constructing me, I think that I am beginning to understand myself in the way God intended for me to be. Quirks and all, I think I’m actually an ok guy, and I’m growing to be an effective leader as well.

Old Memory, New Desire.

I remember it clearly.

 

That morning, as a minister on staff at a the church that I had grown up in, the very same church that I preached my first sermon in, I told the new pastor that I was leaving the congregation. Looking back now, I didn’t do it right, but that’s not the point of this post. I remember the very first time that I felt the Holy Spirit stirring my heart as we sang a hymn that I had sang all of my life without any emotion whatsoever. I remember fighting back tears, not wanting to look dumb as I sang along with the church choir in my very best operatic voice.

I remember that Sunday, because I had long since recognized that I needed something more. I needed what the people in my wife’s church had. I didn’t just want it. I NEEDED it like a crack addict fiends for that next hit. I had to have it. And so I remember. I remember burning rubber after the service was over, eager to get to the my new church home. When we got there, the Pastor was still preaching. I don’t remember what he was preaching about. It doesn’t even matter. All that matters is when he made his appeal, I remember being so worked up, that I jumped from my seat in the back, and with a vise grip on my wife’s hand, drug her to the front of the church. I wonder what I must have looked like…a man in a suit with the ugliest face EVER! i didn’t care. I wanted what they had. I wanted to know WHO they danced and sang for. I WANTED the Holy Spirit! It was the first time that I had ever felt driven to my knees by the power of the Holy Spirit. I felt hands on me, and I heard people praying, but none of it even translated into my shaking body.

When I rose, I had a new church home. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I began reading everything that I could find on receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I prayed for it constantly, not quite having it register that it happened from the moment I asked in faith. Whenever I felt the Lord speaking a word for someone, I never hesitated one time to give that word to that person. Most times, it was spot on! I was on a high. i was young, dumb, and full of a desire to please God. My praise went from listless notes to shouted voicings of adoration. My worship frequently involved tears and bowing low in the presence of God.  Every spare piece of change I had went towards buying books that i thought would help me understand what was happening to me. I watched TBN and TCC, and any other thing that i could that i thought would help me become who God was creating. The other young ministers who were along with me…we were so on fire! Those were the days. I think back to those days, how we didn’t want to pastor. We just wanted to work. We just wanted to touch lives and allow God to rock the world of everyone that we met. We frequently laid hands on people. We felt like we had a movement that was centered on the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that was being revealed to us.

Fast forward to today in service. My Pastor continued his series on “Changing Your Sound”. He focused on worship. And while he said many things, there was one thing that stood out to me. It was in Luke, I believe, where the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet appears. She worships Him in the midst of men who felt like she did not belong, because of her sinful past. Yet, she worshiped Him with her tears, her hair, and her oil. My Pastor mentioned the fact that the disciples weren’t even worshiping Him at that moment. They had become a little too familiar with Jesus. They had been walking with him for a while now, and had seen Him do all manner of miracles, and preach the most profound messages ever. Jaded? maybe. Callous? Possibly. Either way, they knew Him. The Pharisees thought that they knew what “good living” was. They weren’t worshiping Him. This woman, this harlot, came in and showed them what true worship was. She probably had heard of this man, Jesus, but she didn’t “know” him. But, she worshiped him.

The memory above came flooding back to me. I want that. i need that overwhelming desire back. We get so wrapped up in wanting to know God’s will. Sometimes, all it takes is just to remember that first moment of need for God. Sometimes, all we need is just to remember where He has brought us from; how His blood has cleaned up the wretched messes that we were, and sometimes are. I was convicted on how I have focused on the wrong thing..made mission the main thing, when just worshiping Him should have been. In truth, I have no mission unless He gives me vision. And how can He give me vision without spending real time in His presence to just know Him more?

Lord, don’t let me become so familiar with you that I become callous to Your presence, and forget what I was created to do. I pray that everything in my life concerning you would become fresh. I pray that my heart would be fresh and raw, exposed, and transparent. I pray that my jealousies, ambitions, pride, Lord anything that I would even THINK that i could boast about, I pray that it would be washed away. Make my worship new. Make my need for you new. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Just Middling Thoughts

Officially my teaching career is 8 days old, but I can’t see myself doing anything else for the rest of my professional life. That statement comes with a bit of a caveat however, because I am working through a line of thought that has me a bit troubled, I must admit. You who have followed this blog from the beginning know my story, probably a bit more well than you would prefer too. Thing is, almost 12 years ago, God called me to preach, but it felt like something bigger than just preaching. So in the time since, I have always had in the back of my mind that my primary job would be as a Pastor, shepherding a flock, much like my uncle and others that I have looked up too. Now though, I am really having thoughts about that call. I used to separate my callings. I felt like my spiritual calling was a different thing than my professional calling. call it a separation of church and state, if you will. I figured that while they may occasionally bleed over into one another, they were still two very separate things. Now though, now that I know what it feels like to be operating in my gifts, I can see very clearly that there is something much bigger at work here.

 

I can’t really explain what i mean any better than that, except to say that it kind of comes down to fit. I have had issues with fit my whole life. I have wanted to feel like I fit somewhere, that God would show somebody someplace where I would be of most good to the Body. Lord knows that i admit my failings freely…the times that I have been jealous of someone else’s ministry or calling. But I recognize that it all falls back to my own feelings of inferiority and pride.

But what if, God HAS shown someone someplace where I can be of the most good to the Body of Christ? What if that person was my Principal and not necessarily my Pastor? What if that place where I fit is not within 4 concrete walls, but walking along halls with kids who have no idea that God loves them, except that I show them how much I care? What if when God called me to Pastor, it was to a flock like this? What if when God told me that I would start something, plant something, that it was seeds in these moldable hearts that I encounter everyday? Ministry in the marketplace. Taking Jesus to hearts who either know Him, don’t know Him, or don’t want to know Him.  I must admit that this is quite a shift in my thinking, and I’m not diminishing a need to the organized body in the church. However, this is causing me to think about my role at church in a different way. I don’t quite know what that way is right now, but something is happening inside of me. A new sound is going forth, and God is leading me into something that hits every area of my life. I feel some kind of fulfillment coming soon…the kind of fulfillment that includes both church AND state, because in my life they are one in the same.

Maybe I’m not supposed to fit at church, because to fit would mean that I’m comfortable, and I KNOW that my comfort is of no concern to my Christ.

All I know for sure is that I need to pay close attention to God in this season. As I have prayed that He would make my role in my church clear, I believe that He is really about to. And as i have prayed that He would place me where He wants me to affect change for His glory, I believe that He has placed me there; in a profession where His glory can be seen brightly and joyfully.

I’m sure that none of this makes any sense at all, but as with all of my blog posts, be blessed until next time, fam.

An Honest Assessment

We just recently returned home from a trip to our home in the South. Being down there raised so many emotions, and it was really surprising to me that I had to filter through so many conceptions and misconceptions concerning ministry and my role in it.

I can still remember sitting in my car and telling God yes. He called me to preach. he called me to minister. For reasons unbeknownst to me, He saw something in me 10 years ago that He wanted to use. Now, 10 years later, I still can’t quite figure out what that “something ” is. There is a stark difference in the way ministry is looked at between where I’m from and where I am now. If we had remained home, I would most certainly be a Pastor of a church by now- probably would have been pastoring for a few years now. I was being groomed for it, and my wife was being groomed to be a Pastor’s wife. It is almost like a farm system, where you are trained to preach. The saying is that the only way to grow a preacher is to let them preach! When I was home, in my first church, I came up without any pastoral leadership. Our church was without a Pastor, so I had all of the opportunity to preach that a new preacher could ever ask for. They licensed me, and I was sure that I would be the Pastor of that church one day.

Then I lost interest, because God was moving me into something new. I left that church and went along with my wife, because God wanted to show me that the Holy Spirit was real. It was in that church that I first received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It was in this church that I proudly served as an Associate Minister with 7 other dynamic, spirit-filled men. We sat in the pulpit. We preached with fire and intensity. We prayed in loud voices until we were hoarse at the end. I lead an intercessory prayer ministry. I co-lead with my best friend in a class that saw so many get baptized in the Holy Spirit. I was fine with the status quo. I knew that I’d go through classes soon, and then get an assignment to a church. I would be a Pastor, which is what God was calling me too anyway. I was fine with that.

Until I wasn’t anymore.

What I saw many times were young preachers put in churches where the congregations were not growing, and were more interested in upholding the traditions and stories of the past, than building new stories in the present. It was frustrating. I felt like God required more. And when He moved us to Missouri, I finally saw that there was in fact MORE to being a minister than simply preaching. Over the last 6 years, I’ve had to repent several times, because at times it has felt like the wheels have been spinning, while no distance was covered. I have been hard on myself, harder as I have gotten older.

So, this trip home was a little difficult on my psyche. I don’t mind admitting that. See, for every question of how we were doing, there was another question as to whether or not I was a Pastor yet. Reminders of those of my spiritual kin who were now pastoring were never far away. Ministers younger than I, working dutifully in churches that were growing and thriving. I began to feel the old feelings of jealousy and insecurity began to resurface. Cause see, where I live now, there appears to be a way to work up into Pastoral ministry. It seems to begin with working as a youth pastor, and then being granted more responsibility from there. But in my case, I have never felt the leading to work primarily in that capacity. So what does that mean? Was I not good enough? Had I not been chosen after all? With every fiber of my being, i want to feel as if I am some use to God, but by that same token, I harbor deep-seated ambition. I recognize, and admit to that. I’m flawed.

Despite my honest feeling here, in my spirit I know the time will come when God will say “NOW!”. If I have matured anywhere, it’s in knowing how to separate what my feelings are telling me versus what I know to be true in my spirit. My life these past 6 years has been filled with a richness of life experiences that have shaped my personal view of who God is and how faith works. I have a personal theology that is dear to me. And while at times, it really feels like maybe God hasn’t called me at all, I also know that had He not called me, my life would have probably been a bit easier to this point. lol. I know that’s not really a concrete thing to say, but I know that it is true.

So, how do I reconcile all of this? I mean, God has called me to minister and Pastor one day. I serve, and I serve, and I watch. I celebrate those who are working according to the vision that God has given them. I serve within their visions until God shows me my own. I counteract any jealousy that comes up with praise for what God is doing in lives via those ministers and Pastors. Just in my own church, the youth Pastors are putting something really special together, something that will shape a generation for years to come. Our JR High Pastors are working to develop identities in those kids that will counteract what culture tries to tell them. Our elementary and preschool Pastors are pouring into those kids hardcore. Until further notice, my job is to serve with them.

Finally, I trust God. He knows what He is doing. He is preparing me for something that I can’t handle right now. And while that just feels so counter to what I have been raised with my whole life, it’s where I am right now, and I’m at peace with it.

finally.

God be praised.

BNG: Growing New Perspectives

Someone that I look up to as a mentor urged me to really try to blog more often, because it helps with spiritual growth to be transparent and talk about what God is doing in lives.  I really enjoy blogging. I just have to have something to blog about. Lol. I do now. And I hope my Pastor doesn’t get too mad at me for adding to his sermon series. Just seemed to fit. Any members of my church woul read this, this is not from any message Pastor Gene has preached. These are just my own thoughts.

 

All of my life, I have struggled with so many things dealing with my identity. I regret to say that I have been jealous at times of others who I interpret as being further along in their purpose than I am. I’ve been resentful at both man and God for presumed slights against me, for overlooking my own presupposed giftedness. I’ve used the fact that I know God has called me into the pastorate to harbor ill feelings and feel looked over., completely overlooking the fact that God’s path for me is completely independent of what He does in someone else. Not painting a pretty picture of myself am I? And this is the me that I see when I look in the mirror. Much of how I move through the world is based on aspects of this personality deficiency.  Even when it comes to spiritual gifts, I often haven’t been honest about my own, and embraced them. So, as you can imagine, for much of my life I have struggled with an identity crisis of sorts. Not that I don’t know what God says about me, but I’ve struggled accepting where I am versus where I think that I should be. I know that I’m not the only one out there who struggles with this. For much of my life, I have harbored dreams of being someone important, without being sure what a person of importance really is, has to sacrifice, and is responsible for.

 

What I am understanding now, though is that I have thought about things wrong all of my life. I’ve ministered to people about recognizing their worth in God, but disregarded that same wisdom for my own life. Let me give you an example. Ephesians 4:11 is a very well known verse. It says that when Christ ascended, he left gifts to men for the equipping of the church and to build up the body of Christ.  When I was younger, I thought that the order in which they were listed indicated their rank of importance. So when I would complete those gift surveys, and mine would come out as Pastor/Teacher, I would change answers to try and fit what I thought were higher offices. Perhaps, not esteeming what God holds as important is a reason why I’m just now submitting to His will for me to teach. The thing is, God did not give us these gifts to lord them over one another. The 5 fold ministry gifts were given to build a winning team in which each office needs the other to do its job effectively. One is no more important than the other. I see that now. Even in the church, everyone is on equal footing. The Pastor may preach in front of everyone, but he or she gets the least face time with the congregation. It’s the greeters, ushers, and congregation that makes the most difference in whether people feel welcomed enough to receive the word. It’s a total team effort.

 

Another area where God is really dealing with me is in the area of pastoring. I’ve come to the conclusion that while God has called me into that area, my primary pulpit will not be in a church setting. It’s been a hard chain to break in my life. Parts of me have felt that if I did not have a traditional pastorate, then I had failed God. Isn’t it funny how things sneak into our lives about Godly purpose that have no Godly relevance at all? Again, God is working on me daily about my perspectives and mission. My “church” will be the students in my classroom who see me everyday. My pulpit will be my interactions with them. My sermons will be my actions towards them and others that show God’s love on a daily basis. In just my short time being in schools as a sub and library aide, I see so many children who just need to be loved. And God has had to break down my walls about this, because for so long I was just rigid, not allowing God to be creative in my life. I wanted the status quo, because that is what I had been conditioned to desire. But while, I will preach in church from time to time, I will be ministering to these students everyday, children whom God loves with a stronger love than I could ever imagine.  It’s humbling that God is equipping me to do this hard work.  What has God called you to do, and are you allowing Him to be as creative with His calling as He wants to be?

 

So here is what I’m getting at; it is easy for us to become disillusioned with life, and with our identities. It is easy for us to spout Biblical truths to others when we know the Bible. It is easy for us to live lives that have absolutely no relevance in our own minds. What I am learning daily is that my life is not about me. It’s not about what I think about myself. It’s not about where I want to see myself. It’s not about how important I want to be.  And even with my self- esteem issues, I realize that when I focus on how far I am from where I want to be, I’m still being arrogant. I’m still being prideful by willfully focusing only on myself when there is a God in heaven who has His own thoughts about me. I really hope that you’re getting what I am trying to get across. Our lives should be daily testaments. We should trust what God says about us, and believe Him when He says it. We have to quit holding ourselves to a standard that God has not set for our lives. Our hopes, dreams, wants for the future, etc, are nothing compared to God’s dreams and will. And if we will be still long enough to hear from God, I believe that the same things that God is pulling out of me are things that He wants to eradicate from His church as a whole.

 

Don’t be like me and allow yourselves to become corrupted by your own dreams and expectations. Free yourself in Jesus’ name, and ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you, that He will help you dream His dreams about you. Ask Him to help you see through His eyes, the work that He wants to do through you. He will begin breaking down walls in your life, and He will break new ground, thus growing more fruit for others to partake of and see His glory.  A big part of God breaking new ground in our lives is building a new perspective in our hearts.  As we stay in His presence, this perspective will become who we are and how we live.

 

On the flip side, maybe none of this is you. If not, I praise God for who He has made you! I just pray that you will be open to God moving in you to help others who aren’t like you. The body of Christ is made up of all kinds. We have to help one another become all that God desires for us to be. So that is your charge!

 

Be blessed, family!

 

 

I Know..I’m Late.

I hope you all had a very happy Thanksgiving holiday break. I know I’m late, as most bloggers to the cursory “What I’m Thankful For” blog before or on Thanksgiving. In a prior blog, I did the same thing. This year though, I didn’t want to be cursory. I really wanted to think about what I was thankful for. I mean, yes. I’m thankful for my wife and children. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my church. Those things are a given. But it really hounded me that so many times we give thanks for things, yet we have no real reason WHY we give thanks for them. And yes, we should give thanks in all things, for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus for us. I believe that. But it hit me yesterday what I’m thankful for.

 

When we have worship services, I am usually on stage singing with the worship team. While I have no qualms whatsoever about going after God and closing my eyes to focus properly, there are many Sundays where I don’t close them. I look around the service to gauge the temperature of the people worshiping. This is what I saw yesterday. I saw people who had not gone up for prayer being prayed for by people close to them. I saw people at the altar, totally abandoning themselves to God. I heard people shouting out and crying out to God. As worship continued, our Pastor came up and instead of calming things down so that the Associate Pastor could begin his message, he ramped things up higher and higher. He pushed for more worship, more adoration, more honor for God. And I watched all of this with open eyes, well, tear stained opened eyes.  People were jumping up and down. Hands were stretched, pushing into the air, reaching out for God to touch. It was pandemonium, chaos. Yet, it was beautiful. And it hit me.

 

I’m thankful that I go to Destiny Church. Why? Because at my church, the people, the Pastors, don’t care. Yes, they care that people engage in worship. They care that people grow in grace. But they don’t care how you express yourself in your worship to God. We have had a young man rap on stage. Yesterday, one of our guitarists shredded his guitar in offering praises to God. They don’t care. We jump. We leap. We dance. We shout. We cry. On stage, our Worship Pastor allows us the freedom to prostrate ourselves as we sing. Even people who lead songs have fallen to their knees during their leading. Instrumentalists have stopped playing and just lifted their hands. It’s bedlam. But it’s all for God! We don’t care how we express ourselves to God. We just give what we have to Him, and trust Him to receive it in the spirit in which we offer it. Now, don’t get me wrong. When I say that we don’t care, we understand that there are appropriate ways in the Holy Spirit to express that adoration. We understand that the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet. We’ve been taught. We have been trained. But anything beyond that, they trust us to go forth in the Spirit. It is this freedom that allows God to completely wreck us in our services, and this is why I believe that so many lives are being changed each week. People are growing, expanding, stretching, and running after God.

 

I’m thankful that the Spirit manifests Himself differently in every life. It shows me that God has such an artistic flair. Services where so much is going on, yet there is harmony gives me a picture of God painting a beautiful picture of what heavenly worship will be like. I’m so thankful for a congregation that is moving towards autonomous worship, a response that just pours forth from their lives when in the presence of God. It is encouraging and empowering. I love it so much.

So, this is what I’m most thankful for this year. I count myself blessed. Thank you, Abba.

 

Until next time, be blessed.