stories, lessons, and a lot of nonsense

reflecting back

Last week Monday (October 6), marked my 5th anniversary at KCC.  I’ll be honest with you: I didn’t think I’d make it 5 years.  I doubted that before I even started, and then some things made me doubt I’d even make it a year after I started.  I had a modest goal: I wanted to work here for 2-3 years.  I would be happy if I could at least make it that long, because I hadn’t made it that long at either of my previous stops.

I used to get annoyed about my church job history, and not just annoyed, but a little embarrassed, too.  My first two pastoral jobs lasted one year and 29 days and then one year and 36 days.  And it’s not like I was looking to jump around.  I have actually taken every job with the aspiration of being there a long time and really making a huge impact, but it hasn’t happened that way. But then I look at how each job came about, and I realize that it’s been all God’s doing. Did you know that I never applied for my first youth pastor job? I just told the pastor that I’d like to be the youth pastor when they hired someone, and that’s what happened. I also never applied at my second church. I was at my wit’s end, and I sent my friend Charles an e-mail, asking him to pray for my situation as I was going to look somewhere else. Next thing you know, I was the children’s pastor at New Hope.

But a year passed, and I was looking for a job again. After a little bit of searching and praying, I understood that I still wanted to work with youth and children.  I still understand that about me.  So, knowing the layoff was coming, I applied at KCC.  I was worried they’d look at my record and say, “Well, if we want to hire someone for just one year, he’s our guy, but that’s not what we want.”  I was worried that my short stints in children’s and youth ministry would make me undesirable, not because of what I had done, but for how quickly I seemed to be burning through jobs.  But it turned out that what had frustrated, embarrassed, and worried me made me perfect for this position. People who like working with children and people who like working with teenagers are practically mutually exclusive.  I’m a rare sort, because I really love both, and I had also worked with both professionally.  I believe I was the only person who even applied that had worked full time with both at different times, which made me a perfect fit here, despite many weaknesses and rough patches that God has been working out since then.

I recently found an email between me and a former co-worker at New Hope.  I was scared.  I didn’t know how things would go for us.  I didn’t like the path I was on or had been on, and I wasn’t grateful to God for having me on it.  And if I were being honest, I don’t think I could have made the choice to knowingly go down the path that I’ve been on, no matter how it turned out, because it was dark, emotionally trying, and difficult.  I imagine that’s why God doesn’t lay it all out for us in advance.  Most of us probably wouldn’t follow knowing how hard things would be.  But in the dark, feeling lost on the road, I needed to hold onto and follow Jesus, so I wouldn’t lose site of Him or end up going the wrong way.  Left with two choices – follow or get lost – I gladly chose to follow, and it has turned out pretty well for me.  I’m grateful for the path I’ve walked, dark as it may have been.  I’m grateful the jobs I’ve had and the friends I’ve made, brief as my stints were.  I’m grateful that God used all of it to bring me here to KCC, and I’m grateful that I have been able to call KCC my longterm home.  When I reflect back, I see the things that scared, hurt, and frustrated me the most were preparing me to be where I am today, and there’s no other place I’d ever choose to be than right here.

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