i had a long and esoteric conversation with my youth pastor the other day and it caused me to rethink my journey. so often, we trudge consistently toward “the goal” and don’t take time to consider contextual factors like progress and lessons learned. i was sharing with him about the joys of “staff status” (i’ve written about it in this space previously) as opposed to the responsibilities of being lead pastor. as i rehearsed the steps we have taken, i really began to wonder about the vagaries of “the will of god” and the role of the leader. therefore, i’d like to present this quandary for discussion among the wise readers of this blog (you know who you are) and see if perhaps others are thinking the same thoughts and struggling with the same doubts.
the building we occupy (and are renovating ad infinitum) is almost perfectly suited for our purposes. it is in the heart of the city, close to several junior high and high school campuses, and it is huge. not fancy by any means, and it needs a great deal (i wish i could make “great deal” sound bigger) of work, but it is very functional. the whole community uses it and we are delighted with how it performs as a ministry tool. but we have a mortgage (what an ugly word).
before we decided to purchase this campus, we were in the building where my wife and i started the church. when we moved in, it was a dark little place in a residential neighborhood with no room to expand. it would seat about 100 people (125 crammed) and, after a couple of years, we were filling it twice on sunday mornings. and we had no mortgage.
we (my leaders and me) sought god hard for direction, and when our current building became available we felt sure it was divine providence (and here is the aforementioned struggle). after making sure there was consensus among the leadership team, i went to the people and “sold them” on the concept. i told them we were sure this was what god wanted, and i needed them to get behind it (work, pay, etc). for the first few months, everything was great. before long, though, it began to feel like we had bitten off more than we could chew. people began to get disillusioned with the sheer volume of work that needed to be done, and many left. financially, it was a monumental struggle. now, four years later, things are turning around and we are beginning to reap some of the benefits of this facility (child-care center, after-school program, etc).
here’s my question: how does one absolutely differentiate between a step of faith and a self-inflicted blunder? i am acutely aware (and somewhat terrified) of the power of my influence, and i never want to feel like i’m selling something to the people who have put their faith in me. as i look back on the difficulties of the last few years, it feels like i messed up but i know that is not necessarily the case. it may well have been god’s plan for us to struggle. perhaps he needed to sift the people that left (although, to me, that is a painful thought). i have a solid accountability system in place, but how does one safeguard against leaning on energy and ego? my heart quest is to serve with my whole life, but it is also incumbent upon me to lead. how does one properly balance the two (as jesus did)? has anyone else had an experience like mine?
i can’t wait for these comments.