So- we are a few years into this church planting thing. It has been quite an amazing journey full of ups and downs and a whole lot of change. We left all of our family and friends in Tennessee. We have lived in 4 different places since moving here. Angela and I have both had around 3 jobs a piece. Makayla started school. Micajah started pre-school. We have had car accidents, illnesses and all sorts of crazy weirdness (like being robbed twice). We have had plenty of positives and plenty of negatives. I have learned more about myself, about my faith and about God in the last 3 years than I had in all the years before! So I thought I would take my Personal Files blog and share some of what I have learned and am still learning-
1- Church Planting is harder than I thought. No really. Much harder. The last few years of constant stress and change has taken a pretty good toll on my family and I. It has affected us physically, mentally and spiritually. It has affected our marriage and our relationships as a family. (So much so that we have recently sought outside help to help with healing this…and if you know me very well you know this wasn’t easy for me).
2- Discouragement is real and it is hard to deal with. It is so difficult to pour your blood, sweat and tears into something you have been called to do only to often see minimal results or fruit. It is easy to be discouraged. Sometimes I have just really wanted to pack it in and quit. It is especially discouraging to feel that your family is being affected negatively in any way. Sometimes you just want to sit and whine about how unfair it is.
3- I have learned a lot about myself. I am not Superman. I don’t have it all together or know everything. I am a broken messed up guy who is in need of grace just as much, if not more, than anyone I find myself ministering to. I am not a professional and really need to quit acting like I am. My identity and value is directly tied to the person of Christ…nothing more, nothing less. I need to preach this to myself every day!
4- I quickly realized just how superficial my primary relationships were. My relationship with God was not healthy and vibrant. My relationship to Angela was severely lacking do to my negligence. When your primary relationships are not healthy it will compound the issues you deal with in your ministry! I am on the road to healing in this area.
5- God is extremely faithful. In every difficult circumstance, God has provided for us and seen us through. It is only by His sustaining power we are able to continue. He has given us what we need, when we need it every single time. The fact that I am writing this now is testimony to this! If this journey had been done solely in my power…we would have quit a long time ago. He has provided new friends, jobs, a home and a great new church!
6- Church planting was the right decision. As difficult as it has been, I don’t regret doing it. My occasional heart disease symptoms remind me on a daily basis that my time on this earth is limited. I am not guaranteed another day, week, month or year. I want to spend the remaining time I have doing what matters most. I am not here to chase the American dream but to spread His glory. For me- Church Planting is the most effective way for me to do that. In all of the messes- we have seen God change lives and call people to Himself. We have seen Him do amazing things and I can never walk away from that. In whatever small way I can, I want to have an impact for God’s kingdom in the world…and in my home! I want to be used by God- and this is where He uses me. Sure, sometimes I wish he’d pick an easier way but I will trust that He knows what He is doing. 🙂
I could probably write a thousand of these. But for your sake I will stop. The bottom line is this. I am not the same person I was 3 years ago. God has used the ups and downs of this church planting journey to make me into something different. I am still learning what that is…but at the end of the day I trust Him. I will trust that He is making me into a more effective vessel for His use in sharing His glory with the world.
I am thankful and blessed for those God has placed into our lives. Those who do life with us and have been such an encouragement to me in hard times. I pray I can be forgiven by those who have been exposed to my sinfulness over the years and in some way God will allow me to make it right. I pray and trust that God will continue to change and use me. I pray my life is not wasted.