Feb 1, 2007

transitions

Tonight my wife asked me a really good question.

Keep in mind that I was in the midst of typing out an email to one of the staff members I've privileged to serve with. Her query couldn't have been better timed.

"Do you believe you're doing what you're doing?"

I smiled... I knew what she meant.

"No... and I hope I never do. You know what I mean? The second I do I think I will be in trouble."
Right now I am walking in the humility of having a new, front row seat to what God is up to in our area. Granted, that's a faulty metaphor because my role isn't to sit but to kneel; and not just to kneel, but to run; and not just to run, but to be still; and not just to be still, but to be.

Or in less poetic terms, I was at a seminar this past weekend and someone asked, "So you're the new lead pastor at Connection Church in Medina?"

I nodded and smiled, saying, "Yeah... somehow."

It's funny because as much as that sounds like something in itself I should be "established" about I find I'm more in awe of the journey that brought me here and the one I am currently engaged in. The second I find myself losing touch with how amazing it is to communicate Christ, champion His redemptive cause through a local church, move toward lost people so that they move toward God, deepen existing Christians into new levels of connection, and unleash others into their own soul-stirred up ministries... wow, I think I will be in real trouble.

We tend to live for the benchmarks, but I'm finding life is best lived in and revealed in the transitions.

Here are a few of mine.
  • A steady church community to be a part of and invest into... people who have been amazingly welcoming, giving a good balance of invitation and space. My family has intentionally met that with gratefulness that we're not "the pastor, the pastor's wife, and the pastor's kids" but can truly be "Tony," "Katie," "Joshua," and "Daniel."

  • I get to serve with a group of five people who are not only amazing at what they do but have quickly become good friends whom I get to do life with and serve.

  • Our neighborhood is a mix of the relational cul-de-sac we live in and the apartments behind our backyard... we've already gotten to know several of the households, been blessed by one couple coming to visit our services, found out another are Christians who lead worship in their church gatherings, and see continued evidence of many, many boys (who all seem to be about our boys' ages) that all live down the street.

  • We have a house to live in... something we can put holes into, repaint as we'd like, play tag in, and so forth.

  • I am discovering the ways God has groomed me in the past two years and given me several tools to guide things forward here into the next chapter. For instance, I've written two books that train staff members in a church, a whole school year worth of material to train leaders who want to invest into students, a 30 day devotional for teens... and find myself leading a staff, looking for someone to invest into teenagers, and wanting to give something to the teens we have. Nice timing, God.

  • The blessing of building into our lives as a family a rhythm of work and restoration.
What's interesting is that many of these things may still be the in a year. I wonder, though, if I will still live in the excitement of these truths then as much as I do now. Will I be as giddy as I was after my first week "on the job" where after my first sermon I turned to my wife and tapped her leg as I said, "GUESS WHAT? I GET TO DO THIS ALL AGAIN THIS NEXT WEEK!"

Why not?

Whenever we make a switch from one thing to the next we are often in what is called the "Honeymoon Stage." Personally, I think this short-changes the concept of what a honeymoon is in marital circles - as if there is a period where you have thick feelings for someone and everything is awesome... as if you couldn't work to maintain that over the long haul.

That's bunk... I'm over 12 years into my marriage and am madly in love with my wife.

So could I be the kind of guy who is still in love with God and appreciative of all these blessings in a year? Five years? Ten years?

Again, we tend to live for the benchmarks, but I'm finding life is best lived in and revealed in the transitions.

I followed God who challenged me to move here... whether in a year we have 1000 more people or close up the doors doesn't matter because my role is to be faithful and his role is to be God. I signed up for a revolution... not a spiritual business. My goal as a Christ-follower, husband, dad, and pastor isn't self-preservation but of Kingdom living and revealing... and however God chooses to use my energy bursts in that direction is His call.

I deserve none of this... none. I know many people who are happy for me and see how this "makes sense" because of "all I've been through." Thank you... honestly, thank you. You may be right, and I'm grateful you would think that God would bless me somehow after some of the trials we've been through.

But, um... I don't see it that way.

Entitlement will rob you of your joy, and so I'd rather remember I'm entitled to nothing and celebrate whatever God gives me with giddy and geeky laughter. I don't have a problem spiking the football, mind you, but I don't ever want to forget the coaching, blocking, passing, and carrying my Savior has done in my life to get me in the endzone. If I do a little dance - which I have, by the way - it's only because I keep looking around and am in awe of how freaking awesome God is.

And speaking of gifts, can I just celebrate my wife for a moment?

They say that Ginger Rodgers did everything Fred Astaire did... yet what most people miss is that she did it backwards and in heels. Kind of reminds me of my wife - as we have transitioned from our last chapter to our new chapter, I have been unbelievably blessed by her and the things that come out of her heart. She is truly a "helper" to me in the way that I think God intended, and hopefully I am to her the same. Everything I'm doing is better because of her thinking and sharpening... I mean, I'm actually amazed sometimes when she talks - I feel like everything just went up a notch.

So in summary...

If/when you ask me how the transition has been, would you please ask me the same question in a year?

And then the year after that?

And then the year after that?

And so on...

and so on...

and so on...


At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"


He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:1-4)

14 comments:

G-Dub said...

I identify with every word you've written. I'm a longtime youth ministry volunteer who recenly accepted a full-time youth pastor position for the first time. This is my first week on the job, and I can't believe they're paying me to do this job.

Each day, I find myself standing in awe of God's goodness: the loving welcome of the church body, the sweetness and beauty of the teens I get to minister to, the passion of the volunteers I get to minister with, the great little parsonage my wife and I get to live in. It's all undeserved grace from an unbelievably loving Father.

And, speaking of my wife, she has been amazing throughout this transition. God continues to prove His wisdom in bringing us together. Her thoughts, her support, and her love continue to sharpen me and drive me deeper into the arms of Christ.

You and I are truly blessed. Let's both remember it for a long, long time to come.

Amy said...

Entitlement will rob you of your joy, and so I'd rather remember I'm entitled to nothing and celebrate whatever God gives me with giddy and geeky laughter.

great line. beautiful post.

Katie said...

yeah what you said

Katie said...

yeah what you said

Katie said...

yeah what you said

Katie said...

yeah what you said

Anonymous said...

"And then the year after that..." This line resonates with me after 37 years of ministry. Praying daily that I will know the newness and the joy serving a God who gives me this day and only this day to make a difference...hopefully lived as if it is my last. God speed!

Thurman8er said...

I am just busting with joy for you, brother. I will never forget the day that I was overwhelmed at work (I'm not a full-time minister, remember, just a math teacher who preaches), I had way too many things to do and way too little time to do them, and I suddenly was hit with the thought, "AND you have to PREACH on Sunday." I got up, walked to the bathroom, wobbly-kneed, and splashed water in my face. And a voice said, clear as a bell, "You mean, you GET to preach on Sunday."

It was with great joy that I went back to my work and celebrated what God allows me to do for Him. For HIM!!!

May your attitude never change and may all of your days be filled with a sense of wonder at what you GET to do.

bigwhitehat said...

Tony, we haven't visited eachother's blogs in a while so let me fill you in.

My factory is closing by 2008. Now I have to figure out what I want to do with the next chapter of my life.

I really have no clue what to do next.

Everybody keeps reminding me that God has a plan for me. But right now that just seems so abstract and unhelpful.

So please, when your are relishing in your newfound joy, ask that I might get a little joy too. I could really use it.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks for your response, Zane... and I really feel for your situation. I think you know this, but I am where I am today after a good couple years of chaos... which is why I don't want to forget the journey and need to enjoy it. The world is broken, and so any joy we get is a glimpse of the way things really are versus the fractured shard we tend to live in.

I will be praying... not just for joy, but for Jesus to reveal himself to you in unexpected ways. Joy is passing, but he is ever present.

If you want to talk more, email me at the usual address.

Anonymous said...

Hey, great post and cool to see how God has worked in your life. I heard this quote this week and love it....we as the people of God need to become "Divinity Detectives". That is discovering the work of God in all of life and I think what you just described was a little CSI action my friend.....May God continue to bless you, working in and through you, in your new adventure in life!

Brian

Carolanne said...

This is a great post! Thanks for sharing it.

anne said...

Tony, hey. Anne here, from Threads Church. I'm feeling badly that I didn't realize that you'd left Threads and are in Ohio pastoring a church. (I just ran across your blog via EmergentVillage.) So, wow! I can see why this happened; God has given you such a gift for teaching about him and drawing others to his love and grace. I will have to bookmark your blog so I can follow the journey of a pastor in Medina who was briefly a part of our journey here in Kalamazoo. Godspeed.

Tony Myles said...

Hey Anne! Thanks for the shout-out! You, too, Carolanne.

B - thanks for posting and for encouraging the pursuit!