Tuesday, December 20, 2011

One Year

December 20, 2010 was the beginning of the end for us in our previous ministry.  It was the beginning of a trial that sparked these posts:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

To bring you up to speed...we're still in our house.  It has not sold and we may not be here much longer. Joel still has secular work and we're still looking for a new ministry.

We have learned so much this year...things we knew but really learned on a much more personal level.  We joined Maranatha Baptist Church and have really, really enjoyed this ministry.  We've made some new friends and learned lots of lessons....we had a lot of growing to do (and we still do!!).  God has been good and gracious and kind and loving and we do not deserve one bit of His favor.

I've made an effort this year to try and make Christmas really special for our boys.  Last year I was so numb and hurting that Christmas was just a hold-it-together-and-don't-fall-apart kind of holiday.  As much as I tried to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, my selfish pride was focused on my own situation and the despair I felt inside. Don't get me wrong...much of the pain is still there.  Leaving a place (and people) you love is never easy.

I write all of this to say that life is still hard at times.  I still wonder what God is doing and how He is going to do it.  I still have to work to focus on Christ at Christmas and not myself.  I still lay awake some nights and ask God when we will be through transitioning....when will we find a new ministry....when will life move from waiting to being normal again?  Through it all, I KNOW that my God is good.  He has a plan.  The details are worked out, the plan is in place and I get to watch Him work in our family through it all.

So this Christmas, I will worship with my church family and marvel that so many years ago He came.  My redeemer chose to come and rescue me from my sin and despair.  Nothing says Merry Christmas more than that.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Please Don't Bash The Youth Pastor

This post may come off as a rant, and I certainly don't mean it that way. I've waited a week before writing this because I was so bothered.....

One night I was sitting at Tim Horton's (clipping coupons, if you're wondering) when I overheard a conversation a few tables away. Now, the Tim Horton's that I frequent is not large, so I really wasn't too far away from the table of men (there were 3 of them) and I forgot my iPod so tuning them out was impossible. I noticed the men come in and sit down, and really just tried to mind my own business. The men were chatting about the youth pastor at their church. The things they said were not nice. They questioned whether or not he was actually thinking when he planned an upcoming trip. They questioned much about what he's doing and how he's doing it....they pretty much sat there and picked the man apart. Then they decided to pray for the man....and prayed that "he would see the error of his ways and do things the way we want instead....that he would realize that we know more than him and we can tell him the best way to do things..."

I sat at my table just a few feet away and really, really wanted to say something. I'm still not sure what I would have said (I was honestly afraid I would say something stupid or just cry), but I'm sure it would have sounded something like this:

  Please don't bash your Youth Pastor. For that matter, please don't bash any of your Pastors. You probably have no idea just how much they think through the decisions that they make. 

 You probably have no idea that their work is always before them. They don't leave their work at the office and pick it back up the next day. They are almost always working, and a lot of times it is behind the scenes and you'll never know it. 

 You probably have no idea that living in a fishbowl is difficult, demanding and challenging. You probably have no idea how much they love you, pray for you, and thank God for you. You probably don't know that they love what they do, and that they are thankful that God put them in a place to minister to others in such a way. 

 Sitting in a public place, chewing up the youth pastor does not do anything positive for the gospel. In fact, for the 4 other patrons sitting in Tim Horton's, I wish you would stop! Sure, having a Bible study in a public place can open up lots of opportunities for conversations with those who do not know Christ...but if I were one of those four other patrons, I surely wouldn't want MY kids going to YOUR church. And I certainly wouldn't want anything to do with your God. 

I spent 7 1/2 years as a youth pastor's wife, and will hopefully get to minister in a similar way some day. I know that conversations like this are not isolated and that these men are the only ones in the world who picked their youth pastor apart. Can I offer you some advice? If you don't like the way something is being done...please go talk to the person instead of having a free-for-all session.

 Consider the fact that **you** might be the one that needs to change. I'm not saying that youth pastor's never make mistakes and that they are perfect (I know that is not the case), but neither are you. When was the last time that you said "thank you" to someone on staff at your church? When was the last time you dropped them a note to let them know that you appreciate what they do? When was the last time you prayed for God to change your heart and your response to someone instead of praying for God to change them?