This year has been a challenge for me on many levels;
We returned to the relatively tame world of life in Orange County after living in the relatively wild world of the Middle East.
I have worked 3 different jobs in hopes of paying the bills instead of relying on one steady paycheck.
I have spent the majority of my time interacting with people who are not-yet-Christians instead of spending the majority of my time working with people who basically believe the same as me.
All of this is perhaps just a season in life that sometimes feels like it will kill me and sometimes feels like this is the only thing that makes me feel alive. Some of the experiences from this year have reminded me of what it really means to be a follower of Jesus and it has made me think that all of us who serve as pastors should probably experience some of these things from time to time.
Some of the biggest lessons/ challenges have been:
1. Humility- Someone once said, "you can't lead if you can't serve". This year has been a great challenge in humility as I put on my green robe and serve my neighbors, friends, and uptight customers. I still feel tempted at times to explain to everyone why I am working in a job normally held for college students as I see the look in the eyes of others who feel superior to this lowly barista.
Jesus rolled up his sleeves and washed feet, I guess I can handle making lattes.
2. Compassion- A group of guys who meet every morning in my store told me, "Right here, every morning... this is our church. This is spirituality to us". As a pastor I miss these people because I spend so much time in "sacred" spaces. It is amazing to spend a good amount of time in this space so that I can listen, encourage, and pray for the people who have yet to experience the love of Jesus in their lives. To grow in my compassion for the majority of people who don't have a place to connect is an invaluable lesson.
3. Unity- I am a part of a small church that absolutely needs the encouragement and support of others. We borrow a building from an amazingly gracious local church, we received sound equipment from another church community, I help out another local church from time to time with teaching their youth, and several other pastors from a network of churches (Mosaic Alliance) encourage me and keep me going. The Church is so much bigger than us, we are just one of many and joining with others with no feelings of competition is the way Jesus wants us to be.
4. Desperation- I have the privilege almost every week with interacting with people who do not-yet-believe who need to hear that there is a God who loves them and who has been pursuing them. I've been able to listen to the stories of brokenness and pain from others and I have been able to enter in to their stories. The thing with all of this is that it is far beyond my capabilities. I have to cling to God and desperately depend on His leading and guidance. When we are pushed beyond what we think we can handle, we find ourselves right where we need to be.