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Have you seen The Wizard of Oz? I’m talking about the old one, the one they used to show once a year on the one of six TV channels one could get and we all watched. At the risk of spoiling it for some, Dorothy is trapped in Oz and these magical ruby slippers are stuck on her feet. She’s stuck in Oz and goes on a quest to find someone who can help her get home. At the end of her adventures, she learns that the ruby slippers have the power to get her home. She’s had the answer all along, hidden right in front of her. Well, underneath her. On the journey she learns some things she would not have otherwise learned. Interestingly enough, she was walking in the power and didn’t even know it.
In his most recent book, The Seed and the Cloud1, Paul Gibbs wrote,
Sometimes God doesn’t hide things from us. He hides things for us.
I think I’ve found something that has been hidden for me by God until right now. It’s something I could not have known 20+ years ago when this journey began, but it is oh-so-obvious now. It’s something that I could not have otherwise learned, and It was hidden in hindsight. Ready? Here it is.
During my Freshman year at the University of Washington, I attended a “Signs of the Times” Bible conference at Calvary Fellowship in Seattle. At the time I was studying to become a high school music teacher and taking improv theater classes on the side. Without getting bogged down in doctrinal stuff of the end times, God spoke to me at this conference. It wasn’t so much through the content or theology being taught, it was a work of the Holy Spirit. Through relatively boring old white dudes, God told me, “I don’t want you to teach music, I want you to teach my word.”
God’s word came alive to me and, more importantly, in me. I experienced God through learning and seeing how the Bible is one book with One author, and I wanted others to experience this. I wanted to be a Bible teacher. I believe that being a Bible teacher, a trainer, and a discipler, are the primary ways in which God designed me to build His Kingdom.
This is where my path could have gone two possible directions; the one it did take, and the one it possibly should have taken.
Assumption: to be a Bible teacher, what does one have to do? One has to become a pastor. After all, they teach the Bible all the time. While this isn’t an incorrect assumption, it is an incomplete one. Here is the short version of the path.
The pattern in all of this is that not once (or perhaps rarely) was I ever told that I was a good pastor in the smaller church environments. I can’t remember where I read this, but someone who studies churches and church growth said that in order to be growing and healthy, small churches (less than 150) need a lead pastor who is primarily about relationships and less about systems and structures, while larger churches need a pastor who is primarily about systems and structures and less about relationships. Having served in both I completely agree with that assessment.
As one who pegs the introvert meter, I don’t want or need many relationships. It’s not because I’m shy or don’t know how to interact with people. For me that is life-draining. I need a few solid relationships. Everything else is just work. This is why I sucked as a small church pastor and ministry pastor.
I am, however, very strong and very good at systems and structures that enable people to grow and be equipped in the Lord. All I really wanted to do way back at the beginning of all of this was
What might that have looked like? I have no idea, because there is no job title for that. People who do that have built their organization from the ground up while working other “tent making” jobs to pay the bills. And now we come full circle because this is exactly where I find myself.
Saving the specifics for another post, I think I have a plan. I’ve learned, hopefully, from what has been hidden in hindsight, and the process of getting from there to here. I think God has hidden this for me, so that, perhaps, I can be more effective starting now as a Kingdom builder than I ever could have been had I tried 20 years ago.
Take a few moments and look back on your life since you decided to intentionally follow Jesus.
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below so that we can all learn from each other.
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