Thursday, February 24, 2011

Learning Experience

So in my last post I talked about the "funk" I was in after being deferred for ordination in the United Methodist Church. 

So far, there is some clarity around two things that I have learned from the experience.

1. I have learned that sometimes my comments can carry a "shock value." 

If a person receving my comment does not know me they might read more into it than was intended.  This is what happened in one of my interviews.  I answered some questions in a way that was shocking for a group of people that do not know me at all.  My answers raised some red flags.  Next year, I will use better filters and be careful with the way I present myself.

2. I have learned that I have colleagues in ministry that are more than just emotionally and strategically supportive of me. 

One colleague has offered financial support for me to meet one of the requirements given to me by the Board.  Others have been there for me to vent and without judgement because of my anger.  Another colleague was extremely ticked off becuase he feels I am called and talented and thinks the Board made a mistake.  I may not have learned how invested some poeple are in my life and ministry had I passed. 

I''m sure there are more lessons to come but for now I'm soaking these in and moving out of the internal head games that had slowed me down.  Thank you God!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In a Funk

Blessed and in a funk.
I've been in a funk lately.  Most likely it's because of something that happened last week.  You can read about it in a post here.

I'm good at covering it up.  But internally there's a lot going on. 

I've been reminded of what Rob Bell (for more on him, go here) said at a conference I attended last October.  He talked about how you can have 99 positive things said about you and 1 critical comment and it's the critical comment that you remember. 

The church I serve has grown in the 7 months I've been there.

I have been very encouraged by the poeple at the church I serve.

I have been supported by my DS on the district level.

I feel honored to be a part of a forum on leadership led by the Bishop of the conference.

Other pastors in the area have been supportive and encouraging and recognze gifts for ministry in me.

So why is it that I can't shake some of the comments made by a group of people that don't know me yet have power over me because they represent the religous institution in which I'm a part of?

Rob Bell said it's not so much that one critical comment that gets him.  It's the head games that that one critical comments creates internally.

It's easy to start wondering if I should believe that critical comment.  And if it's something true, then what does that mean?

The head games go something like this: If I resent the person that said the critical comment and have trouble forgiving that person, is that a sign of immature faith?  If so, should I even be a pastor?  If I can't forgive how can I teach forgiveness.

Then there's the issue of what other people think about me.  If I couldn't even pass the Board of Ordained ministry, obviously others think I'm a failure.  If others think I'm a failure, will they follow my leadership?

These head games lead to all sorts of places. 

Some of those places are good.  Self reflection is good and can lead to some hard truths that need to be known and dealt with. 

However, the head games can also lead to dark places.  And it's important to guard against the evil one who would use that one critical comment to bring me bitterness, fear, anxiety and depression.

I know this funk will not last.  And I know my God will get me through it.  I know I must persevere and press on and realize that this set back is temporary.

One thing this situation has done is given me a refreshing view of my family.  My wife doesn't love me any less because I didn't pass.  My daughters don't care at their age.  They wouldn't have cared if I passed (even though we would've celebrated, which they would've enjoyed).  They don't care about the size of the church I serve.  All they care about is spending time with me and giving and receiving love.

I am blessed. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

New Logo

The church I serve has a new logo, it looks like this. 

We used a website to host a logo design contest to get it.

Some people initially see a heart.  Some people initially see a path to the cross.  Some people initially see two persons (either facing in or facing out).  Some people do not see the two persons but see two sliver random dots (which is what I saw the first time I viewed the logo).

I like that it creates conversation.  That's a good thing.
I asked a couple of friends of mine that have graphic design backgrounds to pick which one they thought was the best from the website.  They picked the one you see.

I asked two people in the church that have artistic skills and good artistic eyes to tell me which one they thought were the best.  They picked the one you see.

We also had a church vote through facebook and in person (even though only two people showed up).  The majority vote was the one you see.
I like that we can pull the image aside if we want to use just it and not the wording.  I like that it's modern but still keeps the traditional symbol of the United Methodist Church (which is the cross and flame).

The next step is to get a website for the church to put this on.  It's already budgeted for and I hope to get a team started on it soon.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


On Tuesday evening I went through what is known in Methodist circles as the "Great Tribulation."  I went before the Board of Ordained Ministry to complete the ordination process. 

I was a failure.  There are three committees you interview with and you have to pass all three to complete the ordination process.

I passed one out of the three.

Which means I have to go before the other two committees again next year if I want to pursue ordination.

I'm angry.  I'm sad.  I'm hurt.  I didn't sleep well that night (but I did sleep well last night!)

Anyway, last night I spoke at a youth rally in our area.  At the youth rally I talked about how our feelings don't define us, God does.

Worry doesn't define us.

Resentment doesn't define us.

Fear doesn't define us.

Rejection doesn't define us.

These are all real emotions, but ultimately they don't define us.  As I spoke, I wondered if I was speaking more to them or to myself.

I'm just glad I'm defined by so much more than the temporary rejection I feel after failing two out of three committees for a religious institutional system.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Little Help

Proverbs 15:22 says: Plans fail for lack of council, but with many advisers they succeed.

This past Sunday the message was about how it is wise to ask for help from others.

Especially when a decision we are faced with is an emotional decision.

We can so easily make a decision based our emotions instead of based on wisdom.

And those decisions based on our emotions often lead to to our greatest regrets.

May you seek the wisdom of others for the most important decisions you will make in your life.