It’s been a strange year and a half in my life.
But it was a very humbling process. The fact that I did not pass my ordination exams continues on with the journey that God has had me on since I left Hawaii.
The truth is, I was becoming reckless in my ministry. Not in any visible form, and I probably never would’ve discovered had I never come to this church.
My dependence and my confidence was in me. I relied on my talents and my gifts, thinking I was the producer of those things. Along with that, all the positive praises and things people have said about me, had slowly crept into my head, even though I fought against it.
I was doing ministry through my strength and my power and my ability. It was becoming reckless. It didn’t help that I was fairly “successful” in Hawaii.
That’s the attitude that I came in with Mesa Verde. And it wasn’t quick before I begin to realize, I just can’t impose my will onto the youth at this church, or anyone else.
What I thought were key things that helped the ministry in Hawaii be healthy were not even hitting the front lawn of the church.
So, I was mystified. Confused. Frustrated. Is this what failure felt like?
Then, one day, out of the blue (when I still had an iPod), the song “My Way” came on while it was on shuffle play. And I realized something while Blue Eyes was crooning away in my ears. I’m doing ministry My Way. I wanted to finish this part of my chapter singing the anthem “I did it my way.”
And I realized how arrogant and egotistical this thought was. My way? In ministry? No. It has to be God’s way. I have to finish my life, singing “I did it God’s way.”
When this realization hit me, the journey toward humbleness began. Every turn I took, it led to a dead end, with what I pictured God’s finger up waving “no no no.” And I’d fight. And I’d concede. Take another turn, the original one that God wanted me to take.
And through it all, the people of Mesa Verde has been nothing but graceful, understanding and patient as I try to learn of God’s will and relearn what I understand of myself and what God wants to do with me. Surely, I would not be where I am mentally, spiritually and emotionally without the good people of this church.
And the whole ordination process. I don’t know who I am racing. I don’t know why I am in such a rush. And honestly, I assumed I would be given a chance to explain what I wrote in the interviews. And this, I feel, was another way of God nudging me to not be so over-confident in myself and that everything is on God’s time and in God’s control.
In April (for a mid-year appointment) I will be heading to Valencia United Methodist Church (www.umcv.org). I’ll be immersed in youth ministry. Something I thought I did not want. When I was first approached with this, I balked at the DS and God saying, “I thought I was done with youth ministry.” But at the urging of the DS and those close to me, I met with the pastor. What could I lose?
Then it dawned on me, during the discussions with people whom I trusted. I may have felt that I was done with youth ministry, but God sure had different plans. I laughed, prayed and prayed, and realized that God wasn’t willing to let me let go of Youth Ministry. Apparently, God still has plans for me that went against the plans I had for myself. (How often have we all experienced that?)
So, humbled, I’m ready to open the new chapter of my life. It’s a bittersweet feeling, as it always is, leaving behind my current church. But this has God’s fingerprints all over it, and I’d be a fool to ignore it.
The passion for youth ministry that I thought no longer existed in my heart has been reignited with a fervor and power through the Holy Spirit. I have no idea what God has in store for both myself and Valenica, but I know that it’s going to be messy, crazy, wild and Spirit-led.
Besides, in pro-sports, the best way to build a team is through great drafts or a great farm system (in Baseball.) (Hopefully something the Redskins will start doing. And soon). I kinda see that working on the church level. If we intentionally make disciples of youth, the future of the Church is bright and strong. I am ready. I am willing to do ministry God’s way and no longer mine. I know this tension between my way and God’s way will never go away, but hopefully I’ll catch on quicker to realize that God will always win.
To the people of Mesa Verde, we have 5 or so weeks left. I know I’ll get a chance to thank you in person, but thank you for your patience, grace and understanding. It’s something I would’ve never experienced had I been at a Korean church. You were instrumental in God getting through my thick skull and, apparently, hardened heart. I know that I am leaving Mesa Verde taking more than I have given. Words of thanks cannot be said enough, but know our hearts are filled with gratitude for your ministry to us and giving me a chance to learn more about myself and who God is molding me into.
To the people of Valenica, it’s going to be crazy. We’ll learn together if that “crazy” will be a good one or a bad one. Ha. You have no idea what y’all are getting yourselves into. But then again, neither do I. But this I do know: God is behind all that has happened and is happening, and if we open our hearts to the Spirit, God will do things that we may have thought impossible.
Well. God, I’m ready. Do your thang.