I am in a mode of preparing and learning at the same time right now. I am preparing for an upcoming week of craziness July 31 through August 5th, with it being Coast Guard week in Grand Haven, and I am speaking at a middle school camp Monday through Friday morning. So I am working on five messages for that week and I have to pick and choose some different events during this group's activities to hang out with them and get to know them while they get to know me. It wouldn't seem right to show up, talk at a bunch of people I don't know, and never attempt to see what life looks like through their eyes, while they can peer a bit into my wacky life. So my time now is studying, learning and listening to all that goes on around me which when the three are working well together can lead to some pretty interesting conversations with myself about life. In my reading I have recently finished 'Intelligent Church' by Steve Chalke, which has been great for asking the questions, "What are we doing, who are we becoming and why," which is always a great reflector. And I have been reading, "The Ten Faces of Innovation," by Tom Kelley, and that has been wonderful in looking at all kinds of different personalities and ways of looking at the life of innovation and creativity. The latter really sharpens my eye to the things floating around us all the time that we might not notice, yet really shape how we notice things. My reading and thinking time has helped me develop a good outline for our fall conversation series for Moto, which I feel will be a good take off point from what and who we've been trying to become this summer as a Moto nation.
I also have been listening to the first two weeks of Mosaic's series "Sportscenter," which is really good, but as usual Erwin has a knack for frustrating the crap out of me. And I listened to a really good message on fundamentalism from a pastor in Alaska, which was a really straight to the point beauty that should be a huge challenge to the church as a whole (I know it challenged me!). But back to Erwin's two messages, he has a huge passion, and what seems to be life goal, to help people discover how they are wired and what they are passionate about and then running with all they've got towards God with these things in hand. It is really great stuff and I very much share that passion and the picture he paints is so hopeful and would seem ridiculous not to want live in this way (must be that whole anointing thing by God). A lot of it revolves around doing what you are gifted at and learning to practice the skills and talents God has given you so as to live a life that is not only honoring to God, but is an absolute joy to live. When you do what you love and are gifted at it, and you do it well, you move towards becoming who God has designed you to be! He says that so often people spend their time doing things they are ok at, or things with the idea of, "this will get me by," and so we waste so much of life as well as live a mediocre life. We often do things that drain us and fight our souls and zap us of the life that Christ desires for us, so please stop doing that! That makes sense doesn't it? Discover what your gifts and passions are, how you might use them to honor God and be a blessing to others, and all the while living this way with everything you've got! But it leaves me with a lot of questions and frustrations as well. The last ten plus years of my life I have spent serving within the church, most of the time being on staff in numerous roles, sometimes all at once. I've been an actor, writer, program director, drama director, middle school leader, middle and high school pastor and 3rd grade Sunday school teacher to name a few. A combined two years of this time I received a full time salary, both of which were with churches that were quite unhealthy and so the stay was short, and the other 8 plus years I was paid a little bit and worked other jobs trying to get by. I desired for my other jobs to be purposeful and missional, but the fact that they had and have little to do with my gifts, talents, and passions tended to be quite draining and often depressing. I have learned so much through all those experiences and jobs, but as I sit here ten plus years later and find myself still doing multiple jobs both within the church and outside to meet the practical needs for my family, I have to wonder what am I doing? I would think somewhere in there is what I ought to be doing (I pray I haven''t been that far off that I've completely missed my purpose) and so what gives? This was an inner turmoil that was bearable when I was single and wrestled with, for the most part, on my own. But now I have a wife that works insanely hard so that I can work within the church and work less on "other" jobs, and so the inner turmoil is overwhelming at times. I recognize there are several things I do ok, things that seem to come close, but not really hit the way they ought to. My worry is I've been doing too many mediocre things and I have missed the point, even if just by a little bit. Erwin, I hear you, God knows I hear you loud and clear, so what gives? I want to wake up and think, "Off to another day of doing what I am wired and gifted for, no everyday is not going to be perfect and all laughs, but I am doing what God has created me to do!" I understand being the church in all we do, but I highly doubt God would desire for us to settle on mediocrity in what we do, while being the church. I'm sure He desires for us to live out of our gifts, talents and passions, don't you think? It's one thing to work multiple jobs to get through college, or something along that line, but ten plus years of this, I'm thirty fricking years old and I work with some high schoolers who are forced to work part time by mom and dad, some college students doing the aforementioned, and interesting enough a youth pastor who has to make money elsewhere, sweeping floors and making sandwiches. Which by the way is not my gifted area and as I have been told many times through the years, "you need to work REALLY hard to not look mean or just sort of intimidating," because how I physically appear (chunky & bald is intimidating??) And "your demeanor just comes across that way." As I have asked for ten plus years, I will continue to ask, "God where do you want me and what do you want me to be doing?"