Over the last few months, Stacey and I have been heading to a small town south of Chicago to do some pastor and preaching. It's been a great experience overall, but after this past weekend we decided to call it quits. It was a pretty hard decision, but one that we feel God led us to, rather than just a knee-jerk reaction when times got hard. The previous Thursday before we went up there, they led a discussion that came to a vote on my presence being there. People that I trusted had been ones leading the charge against me. And after the cold reception that we received on Sunday, we decided that it would be in the best interest of all parties to end the short-term arrangement.
All that said, I have to say that it was one of the most concentrated learning experiences that I have had. I came up with 10 things that I learned through this process. Yes, it's a list. We all like lists, as my favorite streaming music service keeps telling me.
- Trust my instincts. Even though I am young and without tons of experience, God has gifted me in specific ways to lead his people.
- Trust that God is doing a great work. Both in the people and in me.
- Commit myself to prayer. For people, for me, for Stacey. Lean on God at every opportunity.
- Be in the Word. It is life-giving. It is true and mighty. It speaks today as God has throughout time.
- Ask Questions. Actively pursue the hard things. Where will this just not work? What is a challenge? What can change? What is a deal breaker?
- Confront sin. God hates it. So should you. Confront it head on and be gracious.
- I absolutely married an amazing woman.
- Know where I am gifted. Don't sell myself short. If any of my gifts are compromised, ask why and think hard about the situation.
- Pastoring is like marriage. Can you put up with all her (the church's) faults and still love and serve her?
- Be reflective. Write down your thoughts; talk with others.
And even in the week since I wrote this out, God is still teaching me lessons and I'm sure will be much into the future.