I turn 33 today. Something shifted in me this past year. I feel older. I feel the weight of leadership on my shoulders. I feel stronger, thicker skinned. I feel the proud, protective instincts of fatherhood surging through my veins. There’s a little blue-eyed blonde tike tugging on my leg with the non-stop “dada dada dada” reminding me that others look up to me as well — and not just because I’m tall.
Last birthday I still felt like a young youth pastor trying to wear the clothes of a lead pastor and church planter. This year I became a leader with conviction and a spine. Oh, I’m still out of my league and over my head, but my raw determination, stubborn refusal to quit and deep faith help make up for what I lack in experience and giftedness. As one puts it, “It’s amazing, in fact, what one highly charged, crazy man can do” (Peters and Waterman, In Search for Excellence). My life verse might as well be 2 Cor. 5:13 : “If I’m out of my mind, it is for God’s sake.”
The difference between last birthday and this is enormous.
- Last July it was just Keri and I, and now there’s a little boy named Peter Bjorn crawling and climbing everywhere!
- Last July we were a fledgling core group of 25 or so, now we have close to 100 or so who call MainStreet home.
- Last July the city barely knew of us, now we’re leading in the organization of Mound’s centennial service.
- Last July MainStreet was preparing to launch Sunday gatherings at the Gillespie Center, this July we’re preparing to build out a semi-permant church home (stay tuned).
- Last July we hadn’t met many of our dearest friends at MainStreet!
- Last July had no worship leaders and musicians, this July we have a full band of energetic college musicians.
- Last July we were talking about launching weekly worship, this July we’re signing a lease on a storefront church home and preparing to launch The Alley youth ministry!
I don’t know how we juggle everything. God has been so gracious. Excelsior Covenant Church has been so supportive. My wife has been so patient and strong for me. Yesterday I realized just how many irons I have in the fire and how many hats I wear on a typical day. Most I feel unqualified to wear.
My seminary training did not prepare me for most of what I’m doing these days as a church planter. There’s a difference between spearheading a movement and merely shepherding a flock. There’s a difference between casting a compelling vision and just preaching a Sunday sermon. There’s a difference between mobilizing God’s people for mission and merely maintaining the status quo in an established congregation. There’s a difference between being an effective leader and just holding the office and title of pastor.
Solely by God’s grace and my own stubborn perseverance (bordering on insanity) have I become this past year something of a leader in God’s kingdom. The saying is true: God doesn’t often call the equipped as much as he equips those reluctant, unsuspecting servants he chooses to call. Ask Moses. Ask David. Ask Gideon. Ask Mary. Ask the disciples.
I’m humbled. I’m determined. I’m 33 years old with a growing bald spot, amazing wife and son, and the call of a lifetime to get me out of bed each morning.
Thank you God for another year as your servant.