Church and I

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

When it comes to work — I have a hard time answering that question.
Especially when I look at the people around me and I (feel like I’d) know for a fact where they would be in five years. I sort of envy that.
My senior pastor — 5 years from now, he may as well be retired but I’d be surprised if he’s not involved in a local church in one form or another.
My colleague — in 5 years, I see him moving his new church plant to the next level of ministry and community life.
My clergy friends — there’s no doubt in my mind that most of them will be serving a church 5 years from now.

But of course that’s just me assessing from the outside looking in. Who knows their inner monologues with God and their calling? Because — let it be known — we pastors also question and doubt and wonder and wander.

As for me, yes, I see myself working at a church 5 years from now. But there’s a restlessness in my soul asking, “why?”
But see, that’s always been there. That “why” existed from the moment I realized that seminary was the next chapter of my life. “Why?”
It was there when I realized my calling was leading me to a local church: “but, why?”
It was there after every decision to move: “why?” that evolved into “why am I here?”
Yes, there were times that question was a heavy burden on my heart. But most of the time, it has been helpful because it helped me assess and reassess and focus on what my purpose was/is.

So yea, 5 years from now I can see myself involved in the local church. And wrestling with existential questions.
I can also see myself 5 years from now, finishing up barber school and working at a barbershop and spending the weekends giving free haircuts to the houseless. And wrestling with existential questions.

I don’t doubt or question my calling. I can’t ever shake that off. Lord knows I’ve tried many times to Taylor Swift it and shake shake shake shake shake it off without any luck.
I do, at times, question my setting —the “where” of living out my calling. I wonder if I am where God is calling me; if I’m doing the best that I can; or if I’ve settled for the average life by shying away from risks and floating towards being the maintainer of the status quo.

There are things about the local church I’m very proud of; people who show extraordinary love, grace, and generosity; people who get it; people who go above and beyond; people who truly embody a sacrificial life; those who truly embody servanthood.

Then there are things that make me extremely restless about the local church. And I think I’m going to take a few posts to flesh this out.

But, as I stated above, note: this is my thinking out loud process; figuring things out as I’m processing them. Let it be known — I am doing well. I am okay. I’m not going through some midlife crisis. It’s something that’s always been in my heart and soul — from the moment I said “yes” to God’s call.
I’m not going to up and quit my job without notice. I’m just writing my thoughts out; I’m just putting my thoughts into words because I need to keep this blog updated and I’m tired of the “this post originally appeared on” updates (which will continue on until I’ve run out of ‘em). I want to write original stuff.

Also, I got a new bible and for the first time in my life, had my name engraved on it. Why is that significant? I don’t know, but coming home with that Bible with my name on it (legitimately excited because I’m a pastor nerd, apparently), it raised lots of thoughts and questions that began this journey of thoughts… so blame the Bible.

And also, I get it. My angst towards the institution of church — it applies to everything in the world; to any institution or company; to any job or vocation; to any person. There are things we love and there are things we can go without.

But man, I also don’t want to undermine all the good the church can do when we get our sh*t together; when we focus on our mission and on our purpose. When we look at how to serve our community — both within the walls and the neighborhood; when we eliminate personal agendas that do not benefit the community of faith; when we encourage one another for the good of the Kingdom; when we do no harm and do good; when we do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit; when we value others over ourselves; when we look towards the interests of others and not our own… We 👏 Are 👏 Unstoppable 👏.

How do we get there? How do we stay there?

… work
… Forgiveness
… Grace
… Hope
… Determination
… Focusing on the goal/mission/purpose

and most importantly with love, because if we don’t have love — as Paul writes in One Corinthians: if [we] have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if [we] have faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, [we are] nothing.

So here’s to a journey of posts that will lead you — for better or worse — to my thought process and insights of how my mind may work. The next post re: church will most likely have to do with Harvey, JJ Watt, and the Church.

Until then:
Don’t be a jerk.
Be cool and do good.
And continue to stay in love with God.

So say we all.

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