(blogged on 5.26.08)
So I am sitting on jet plane bound bound for Hawaii, planning on spending the next 7 days on board the USS Germantown with my buddy Chris Stout who is returning from a 7 month deployment. I think this is the first time I’ve been alone in a very long time. I’m either with my wife, my kids, or people from my church. Too long I think. I’m just reflecting on my life, my family, my “job”, my relationship with God, etc. I had a thought which I’m sure is not profound, but it’s causing me to really think hard. The thought is: If I could change anything about my life what would it be? What are the things that I’d like to do, that I am just not doing? What behaviors would I like to remove or add to my life? What goals would I like to reach? What kind of husband would I like to be or rather, what kind of husband does my wife need me to be? What kind of father? Pastor? Follower of Christ?
If I’m being honest, I’m not doing that good of a job. Oh it may look like it from an outsiders viewpoint, but there’s some issues that need to be dealt with.
So here’s some things that I’d like to change about my life. I’m not saying I’m going to change everything and conquer all these areas – I’m just being real with myself and seeing where I stand today, so that tomorrow I can see if I take a step forward or back.
1. I’d like to be a more compassionate and attentive husband. I get easily distracted by my job, my kids, hobbies. And to be honest a lot of times my wife gets left overs. It’s not that I don’t value my wife or love her any less – what it comes down to is that I’m just selfish. And I can disguise it as being busy with work, which as a man gives me a sense of worth. Or playing with the kids; it looks good, cuz I am being a good dad, but let’s face it – it’s easy to play. What’s harder is doing the things that don’t come naturally to a man (or at least me). Listening closely and attentively to my wife – caring deeply about what she cares about. Spending time focused entirely on her, putting the cell phone away, closing the laptop, and opening my heart and mind for her to see how much I love her. I tend to show her that I love her by doing things. Being a hard worker (bringing home the bacon, which is not much), helping with the kids, helping with the housework, buying her flowers. But I know that that’s not her love language. She needs physical touch and complete attention. I’m guilty of saying things like “I can never do enough…”, expecting that to somehow make sense to her. I’m right; nothing I do can replace how my wife “feels”. It’s her feelings that I need to be attentive to – she deserves the best, my best, not leftovers. Sometimes I’m surprised by how much she has to put up with to be my wife.
2. I’d like to be more spiritual. Say what? Aren’t you a pastor? Yeah, so… being a pastor doesn’t make you spiritual. Anyone who has a respect for the title “pastor” or “reverend, bishop, priest, minister” simply because you put it in front of a name is blind. That person needs to earn that respect with a life of humility, service, and holiness. I feel like I’m learning a ton every week, trying to stay teachable, moldable, and humble. But as far as walking close with my God, depending on his spirit to empower and guide me – not so much. I mean I love reading and studying my Bible and every time I do, God speaks amazingly. I love to pray and seek God. I love to worship him and sing songs and praise him. The problem is that it isn’t my natural inclination – it’s still something that I have to really focus my life on. And I’d like my life to be more spiritual, naturally. In other words, just less of me and my hopes and desires (selfishness), and more of God’s spirit working in me. More dependance on him, more praise and focus to him. Holiness, not high-and-mighty-ness, not churchness, but truly, authentically, & genuinely becoming more like Christ every day.
3. I’d like to model Christ first and foremost to my family. I’d like to spend less time leading others, and more time leading my family. I want their dad to be their pastor. I know this may sound awkward to some, but it is clearly a biblical mandate, and I believe it is what creates a strong & healthy family unit. I want my kids growing up loving Jesus, but not because their sunday school teacher told them to, but because they see their dad doing it, passionately. It’s so easy to take off the pastor hat when I get home. Some have said that they want to keep their family separate from the church because pastors lives tend to be so crazy. I say to that – what a shame. Even though a pastor (or church leader) is just a man or woman, he or she is still called to live with more responsibility. And as far as I’m concerned, their ministry should be a reflection of how they lead they’re family. I’m reminded of the quote, “of anything a leader does, self-leadership is the most important”. I think it’s crazy that we would allow a man lead a church or ministry when he can’t even effectively lead his family – that’s insanity. God help me.
For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s church? 1 Timothy 3:5
4. I’d like to be more physically healthy. Alright, just some more honesty here. I don’t care what I look like on the outside – I can suck it in and dress to look like I don’t have issues, but I know what’s going on. I eat garbage, a lot of times. I don’t exercise. I don’t treat my body like the amazing temple that God designed it to be. And again, it’s all about self-leadership! I used to surf at least 2-3 times a week, mountainbike (hard-core) 1x a week, work out in the gym. I never really ate well, until I met Jen (she’s awesome at trying to get me to eat healthier). My biggest excuse? I don’t have time. I’m too busy with church, family, etc. And because of this I’m 33 and horribly out of shape, at least 25lbs overweight, low energy, sleeping problems, acid-reflux, and semi-depression now and then. And this is the guy that is supposed to say like Paul, “follow me as I follow Christ” – what a joke! Oh, I can turn it on for the weekend and be all chipper and high-energy, but that adrenalin wears off and leaves you tired and weak. So I’m not joining weight watchers, or fat-ragamuffin, or no-more-fat-arses-in-ministry, no offense but that just doesn’t work for me. I’ve got to make a radical lifestyle change. Maybe this little getaway will shock my body into some new healthy habits.
5. I’d like to spend more time operating in my sweet spot (sorry for the church lingo). But here’s what I know: I can be insecure. I can doubt what I’m most gifted at, question my calling, be like the waves – blown every direction by the winds. I don’t want to be like that. I want to be confident in my calling, confident enough to do whatever God calls me to do and to go wherever he calls me to go. Here’s where my passion is, my main gifting: to create worship experiences where people have the opportunity to have a genuine experience with the Living God. I’m passionate about people being ushered into the presence of God. The room in which we worship is a holy and sacred place where people come to meet God. It should never be taken lightly. God chooses to use our gifts of music, leadership, teaching, supporting, serving, all our senses to show himself to people and to invite people into relationship with him. How amazing is that? And one of my major strengths and passions is to be a part of something like that on a weekly basis, whether behind the scenes or behind a microphone. There’s power in that time and to prepare and execute to the best of our abilities a worship experience is where it’s at for me, personally. So I’m praying that I can hold on to this dream and be passionate about seeing it played out in my life – if God chooses to allow me that honor.
So I’m about 4 hours into my flight and I feel like God has put me on a path already. A tough one. A new season of change. A new season of working harder than ever before, but finding my strength in him, not myself. A new season of personal commitment to my wife, to my family, to my calling, and to my God. If you happened to read this all the way through, I’d really appreciate your prayers.