Standing at the Chapel Door

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It’s my wedding day, and the idea that everything will be different from this point forward terrifies and excites me. Three years of dating had taught me a lot about Josh, but I knew marriage would be an entirely new experience.

Those years of dating were full of questions:

  • Was he the one God had for me; the one I would spend my life with?
  • Did we have similar ideas regarding marriage, family, finances and our futures?
  • Would he make me happy?
  • What if we got married — committed ourselves to one another — and then discovered some horrible secret or character flaw?
  • What if I was wrong?

Talking out our fears and anxiety, we wrestled with each question together and privately. Praying, seeking God’s direction, and believing that if we genuinely desired His will God would not steer us wrong.

So we arrived at our wedding day.

Curled, powdered and covered in satin, standing at the doorway to the chapel, I recognized the importance of that first step inside; there would be no turning back. Confidently walking forward, my arm looped through my dad’s, I welcomed the commitment ahead.

Over ten years have passed since that day, and there have been surprises and trials for us to work our way through. Not all the surprises have been bad, and the trials have made us stronger and closer. Never once have we given ourselves the option of running away from our commitment or doubting the path God has led us on.

Normally these types of posts are written on wedding anniversaries or birthdays, but mine is prompted by the similarities I am experiencing on the brink of a new commitment.

Over the past few months Josh and I have been wondering what God was bringing us to Washington for, and where we would serve once we were up here. We felt pressure and anxiety to find a new church right away.

Like my dating experience, the questions in my mind regarding our decision were all about me: 

  • Do I like the worship, preaching style, decorations and children’s programs?
  • What kind of opportunities do they have for me to use my calling and giftings?
  • Are they welcoming and friendly? Do I see people I’d like to get to know better?
  • What if we start going here and it turns out bad? What if they just want to use us?
  • What if we’re wrong?

We believe we’ve found our church

Today, I recognized that once again I am standing at the door to a chapel. The time for fear and anxiety is past, and my questions need to change.

On the day of my marriage, the only thing I needed to ask was: “How can I be a godly wife for Josh? What can I do to serve him?” No longer could it be all about me, because I was now one with another.

In committing to a church, much like a marriage, the question needs to be: “How can I serve the leadership and congregation of this church?” No longer can it be about what they do to serve me or feed me. We are told to be more concerned about the needs of others than ourselves. That we will be known by our love for one another.

My marriage has lasted over ten years because of my commitment to Josh and to God, and trusting Him to work in my relationship. If I had based it on my feelings and personal ideas of happiness, there might have been a few times I would have chosen to bail out. Today I am wiser, happier and a better person because of the things Josh and I have been through together.

I believe the same thing can be true as I commit myself to the leadership and fellowship of a new church family.

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The Next Top Iron Pastor America

Augustin Théodule Ribot: The cook and the cat

Image via Wikipedia

 

I’m somewhat addicted to food competition reality TV shows.

 

 

And by somewhat, I mean completely addicted. My DVR is full of Top this and Next that and Chefs made from Iron. As a connoisseur of this genre, I feel that I can now provide some insight into the contestants.

There are three different types of contestant that always appear:

The Street Fighter: This chef has worked their way up from the bottom. They went to the school of hard knocks and they have everything to prove. The chip on their shoulder can be seen miles away, and they are out to get those snooty, culinary school chefs.

The Recent Graduate: This chef is a recent graduate of a high ranked culinary school. They have their technique down, they know the language and they’re eager to display their knife skills. The knowledge they’ve gained has inflated their head to the point where they are unable to see anyone else around them.

The Old Dog: This chef might have started out as a Street Fighter or a Graduate, but they have 20+ years of experience under their belt. The other contestants are intimidated by this chef’s empire, while they’re just in it to show they’ve still got it. An expert at their style of cooking, they have a hard time thinking outside the box.

Occasionally, there’s a fourth contestant:

The Woman: This chef could also be considered a part of any of the previous three categories of contestant, but they have the added handicap of being a woman in a male dominated field. This is interesting to me because in the home, women are the usual meal provider.

As interesting as you may find my breakdown of reality show food competition contestants, what does this possibly have to do with you? Some of you overachiever ones may have already figured it out…

I see this same breakdown within the church, specifically church leadership.

There is the Street Fighter leader, the one who still sports the tattoos and rebel clothes to prove that they’ve got street cred and a past. They’ve lived and have actually been saved from something, which makes their faith of more importance. They are the ones who want to go out in the marketplace to witness to everyone they see. They’re not afraid to take risks and their ministry is one of passion, heart and soul.

There is the Recent Graduate leader. This is the recent bible college student, with a head full of knowledge and not much experience to match it. They want to name their ministry something in Greek or Hebrew to be authentic. Their hermeneutics are fully exegeted and each bullet point starts with the same letter. They’re eager to try out all of the theories and programs they learned about at school. These leaders are in touch with the latest ministry trends, not really committed to a set style of leadership yet.

The Old Dog leader is set in their ways. They have found a style that fits them, one they’ve found success with, and they’re comfortable. They’re in it for the long haul, and nothing’s going to derail them. They scoff at the notions of the Graduate; they’ve seen trends come and go. Perseverance, hard work and commitment are what’s important.

Then, once again, there’s the ladies. Although women make up the higher percentage of lay volunteers within the church, they’re not really approved to lead. Well, they can lead the women’s or children’s ministries, but they’re still fighting their way forward to compete with the big dogs.

Again, you may have found this all to be interesting, but don’t really see the point in spelling it out.

Here’s the point:

In the reality show competitions, each contestant is striving to prove that they’re better than the others, all the while hiding their own insecurities.

Life experience is better.

Professional training is key.

Age outranks youth.

Gender shouldn’t matter.

The same thing is happening within the church. And everyone is right.

Life experience is important.

Knowledge is useful.

Age provides maturity and wisdom.

Gender differences shouldn’t matter.

But everyone is wrong too.

Life experience without knowledge can lead to poor theology. Knowledge without life experience frequently ends in a cold, lifeless ministry. Age can still learn from youth, and youth needs to respect age. Women are not men, but men are not women; both have a valuable perspective to provide the church.

Instead of viewing it as a competition, we need to recognize that each individual has something unique to provide. We all can learn from each other and become more effective in the process.

Now I need to go get something to eat, all this talk about food has made me hungry.

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