Last January I wrote a post on this blog entitled “the plot thickens in my life story.” According to the self-described WordPress stats helper monkeys, it is the most popular post of the year. I am under no illusions as to the reason. People like to search google for the term “statue of liberty”, which was featured prominently in the post. By mentioning it again, I am hoping this post will also generate some longevity in its readership. Calculating, I know. :)
This post is a follow-up, nearly one year later. Much has changed since I last wrote of these matters in depth. I have learned some things about myself. By reading the previous post you may discover some of my backstory related to becoming a children’s pastor and later setting that role aside. Here, I reflect on my journey since that time and the obscure way forward.
For seven months after my resignation as Children’s Pastor and setting aside my ordination credentials I attended a great church near my home. I am grateful for their hospitality in allowing me to attend, even for a brief time. But I missed my tribe, my people with whom I have prayed, ministered, and laughed for so many years. With their permission and blessing, I returned a few months ago.
Slowly, I am re-engaging. I look forward to deeper connection and ministry partnership with the local church in the new year. I admit to a slow realization: I am a reluctant protagonist in the larger story which unfolds around me. I prefer to fly low under the radar. I am reluctant, but mindful of my responsibility. I am still not sure how it will all play out. Much remains obscure, which is likely for the best. But I do know I miss working with children. I especially miss working with at-risk children who have little or no godly influence in their lives. I miss the theological conversations with their grown-up neighbors and relatives. I miss sharing laughs with their parents and families. Although I haven’t got the time or desire to return to a pastoral role in a local church, I am liberated to engage ministry creatively and strategically as opportunities arise.
My challenge is to do this in a way that respects the leadership, particularly given my history with the church. This is why I have kept my distance from the children’s ministry in-house, and why I do not initiate contact outside the church sanctuary with families without the blessing of leadership. I don’t want to generate confusion, yet I am here and available as the church allows. Just yesterday I rode along with one of the church’s leaders to visit a four year-old girl and her foster mom in the hospital. During our Christmas Church service, I had the privilege of sharing communion and praying with three young sibling from the neighborhood, and doing so on a level they could understand. Both opportunities were a blessing personally to me.
Beyond that, most of my ministry focus lies outside the church walls in the marketplace and workplace. I do life with people, asking God to form in me Christ’s character so that through my words, actions and attitudes I may influence them toward repentance and faith in Jesus. Whether on loading docks, the gas station, the hair salon for my regular grooming, or in one of my employer’s several warehouses, opportunities always arise, challenging me to demonstrate the life of Christ. I do best in those environments, far from the glare commonly reserved for a protagonist. It is then, outside the fast pace of the larger story, that human pain comes to the surface. It is my privilege to be there as simply another human being who happens to love Jesus, the real protagonist of my story.