My church asked me years ago — demanded me — not to get too involved with my own people. Don’t give rides to the youth. Don’t do that program, it’ll be out of control. Don’t have outings after church, they’ll get home late (on a Friday). Don’t do anything that will diminish your authority.
I really cared about my reputation with the church leaders and the parents. I always wanted to obey; of course that’s the right thing. But the trade-off was that I played it safe, never got into the gutter with these kids, never got into the trenches with their lives, and had my hands tied. Well cut off. I let them.
Almost any time I tried new things, I’d get in trouble. Too radical. Too novel. Too much. I’d back off instantly. I was the King of Deference. In seminary they teach you to lower your head and throw your vision under a bus. Being a coward is easier. I’m reminded of Francis Chan’s youth pastor, who was fired for raising disciples. That made an impact on Pastor Francis: that sometimes pursuing God’s vision means abandoning manmade protocol.
Having a breakdown made sense: I was feeling impotent, powerless, fruitless, ashamed. I did not do anything God called me to do in fear of reprimand. I feared man. So inevitably I imploded.
When I come back to ministry, I think I’ll have to ask for forgiveness later instead of permission now. I’m dealing with youth who might never go to church again after graduation. These parents don’t see much at stake. I see eternity. I see life trajectories turning to glory or destruction. Is that too dramatic? The Bible says no.
Please pray that I would do this out of conviction and not rebellion. I want to push the boundaries of a safety-obsessed church: not for me but for Him. It’ll be exhausting, I could run myself into the ground again, I could be fired, but at least I won’t have regrets. I’ll be doing it how God wants me to. It’ll be a joyful struggle.
Originally posted on my Tumblr.