Working on the staff of two mega-churches, I built a career that brought me to the point where speaking on stage and in front of a camera to more than 2000 people a week was normal. Creating new ministries and teaching hundreds of people in classes and ministries during the regular week, and countless one-on-ones over coffee.was a piece of cake. I ran into a couple of problems, though. I couldn’t escape the Voice inside of me that kept insisting that I was created to work in small, focused, and personal ways that freed people up to be who they had been designed to be.A fair little bit, bro. My words (to my wife) after one Jesusless worship service too many were: "I can't do this anymore."
I also had a predisposition for pleasing people and being intensely concerned with what they thought of me. Particularly those in “authority.” The longer that I stayed in ministry, the more obvious one thing became. If my soul was going to survive, I would have to push past fear of taking a different route the one I had grown to know. I made the decision to face the fear and pursue the dream that I’ve carried inside of me for years. I thought the crucial moment it would be different.
I thought that it would happen with a loud fanfare, a swell of emotional music, and quite possibly a dramatic yell where the camera moves to an overhead shot. It wasn’t that way at all. I found that changing my life started with small, quiet decisions. I only said seven words.
“This does not work for me anymore.”
I sat in a regular Monday meeting, the same type of Monday ministry meeting that I have sat in for 20 years. Four faux leather chairs forming a square. A squat coffee table in the middle. Square windows overlooking manicured lawns. Decoration in the Christian/casual/corporate vibe, where we do serious business in our flip flops and non-ironic tshirts.
For 20 years I had sat in these same offices, in the same megachurches, having the same conversations regarding numbers and participation and programs and organizational processes. Which volunteers are leading or not leading. Who’s on board with The Vision? Who is not on board with The Vision? Things that I knew were helpful and fun and desired by the congregation. However, while I always had a title of Pastor, there was very little pastoral work being done. I was only ever evaluated or paid on the number of programs, and the number of butts in the seats of those programs. Programs that I knew from experience were not healing people. Processes and programs that were not changing lives, or turning people’s hearts toward God. And I had to say the truth, because the prospect of my own soul collapsing under the repetitive weight of NO LIFE CHANGE finally overcame the paralyzing fear of losing my livelihood – of losing my whole identity. So I said the seven words. “This does not work for me anymore.” And I did not die. What do you know about that?
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