My assignment: Write a 750-1000 word reflection after completing each workbook that explains what I learned personally about focused living from the workbook.
Everything about my journey towards ministry has been unconventional. I did not opt for seminary right out of high school; in fact, I never saw value in furthering my education. However, I have traveled from childhood to my mid forties with a gut level attraction toward leading. Looking back at all of the circumstances, I can see a pattern of guidance from above. Reflecting on the people I came into contact with as a young man; I see the many ways their influence would resurface as I became mature enough to recognize the value in what was shared with me so many years ago.
As a preteen, I witnessed our pastor expelled from our church due to his wife’s infidelity. It was traumatic and it made me feel like life would never be the same. Later, as a professional musician who traveled and made it to the big stage, I saw the business side of the Christian music scene show me how corrupt a Christian could be while taking advantage of people under the guise of “ministry.” Both of these events at completely different stages in my life convinced me of how much we all need Jesus. I witnessed human nature call for self-preservation and selfish ambition perpetually into my 30s. One could say I gained perspective about avoiding trust in people over trust in God.
Self-reliance, work ethic, conviction, and perseverance became a higher priority as I became older. I really did not want to impart those feelings of being let down to anyone on earth. I committed to work hard, honored my commitments, and always followed through on keeping my word. I was quick to help anyone to the fullest when asked for help. To this day, I find joy in completing a project or task regardless the situation. God has truly wired me this way from my life experiences.
It is funny how there is always a flip side to every coin. On one hand, God has used some negative experiences in my life to instill useful values. On the other hand, the same experiences have left me with a character flaw or maybe we can call it a character challenge, which is difficulty dealing with excuses for incomplete tasks. Tolerance is one of the toughest virtues in my life to make peace with. I want to extend grace and understanding, but not honoring a commitment or unreliability does not settle well with me. I lose respect for those who take commitments so cavalier. Intolerance becomes especially magnified when church and the ministry are involved. When it comes to God, I default to a, “there is no excuse” stance, because I do not take my commitment to Christ or the church casually.
God has used several divine appointments in my life. The very first people God sent to me were sent as a pair during my first years of high school. Monty Sharp and David Stanley worked for Campus Crusades for Christ and had started a Wednesday night Bible study for teens called Student Venture. Monty loved to share Jesus and David could play his guitar and sing like no other. They were both equally demonstrating the love of God in a powerful way. The Wednesday night study became the norm for me through high school. I continued to attend and assist with worship years after I finished high school. My second divine appointment arrived at this same study; I met my wife. She keeps me grounded and encourages me to think before I speak. My temperament needs someone in my life to save me from myself at times. I thank God she is willing. One Bible study and three divine contacts; God was most definitely efficient in this case.
In my mid twenties, I had an opportunity to play guitar professionally. I teamed up with two friends from Junior High School. We happened to be in the right place at the right time, and were signed to a Christian record label in Nashville. We were young and admittedly naïve, and I lost one of my best friends in the process. The whole experience amounted to a giant negative preparation for ministry later in life. I know my experiences reinforce my now careful approach to new commitments. God built a healthy skepticism into me to serve as a balance to overzealous endeavors.
My fifth and final process item falls in the category of Destiny Revelation. When I began attending Calvary Hills Church, I had no idea what was in store for me. After several months of attending, I began to notice that most of the needs and deficiencies lined up with my strengths and skill sets. I began to get involved and solve issues with the church one item at a time. The relationship between Pastor Jeff and I grew and a bond of trust was formed over a four-year period of time. In 2012, Jeff asked me to serve on the Board and I graciously accepted. I spend 20+ hours a week working on and in the new ministry direction God has called me to, realigning my life to make ministry a priority.
My life has been full of challenges and faith sustaining events, taking the long way around the mountain to my destination. Once I became aware of my calling, ministry maturing happened quickly. He has also made it clear what is not necessarily in my wheelhouse. As I continue to mature, I realize how much I do not know. It is ironic that being enlightened means you realize you are not enlightened. God has and is providing ways for my unique shaping to contribute. Simply put, he is giving me tasks and opportunities that no one else could do. I am experiencing fulfillment in the work of the church and I will not be setting aside my gifts any time soon.