This weekend is Easter Sunday. As a guy who works at a church, that’s one of the busy seasons. One of the “all hands on deck” kind of moments.
I hate about myself that I have a capacity to make things about myself. I over-think, over-analyze how I’m doing, what I’m doing- not that I think I’m what’s important in the grand scheme of things, but rather I am the only thing that I control. So I overthink my role within a system or situation because I’m the only thing within that system or situation that is within my control or influence.
Before every Easter, we have good friday- the day that Jesus died for us. Even as someone who really hates Christmas and Easter holidays, because I’ve spent too much of my life in retail (that can be the cause for a post on another day), I love good friday. Something about a whole christian holiday that’s devoted to pondering the sadder portion of the Jesus story resonates with me on a deep level. Not only that, but Christmas and Easter are celebrated by people who have no idea what they’re celebrating. Take anyone who puts eggs and bunnies into easter, and you’ve proved my point of people who haven’t even yet completed the process of taking easter away from the ancient fertility rituals. But good friday? That’s actually special. Non believers, people who just nominally follow Jesus, who aren’t all-in- they don’t generally celebrate good friday. I no more knew it was even a holiday growing up than I knew about jewish holidays or kwanza- it was something that existed, the name sounded familiar, but it wasn’t related to us at all. If anything, that endears it to me. Even all these years later, I love it, because it wasn’t a thing we celebrated growing up as a family who was christian only in ethnicity or politics.
But then good friday comes, and my role in our churches service was nothing at all. I offered to take on a non-role to help my boss to skip the step of having to wonder how to break it to me. Made his management of me easier. But man it broke my heart. I sat in a room of tables where people were praying for one another and doing communion, knowing I wasn’t being invited to do any of it. I’m the last guy they’ll hand a microphone to on a sunday, I get it. But I’d like to think that my ability to pray with others and share communion with them would be a given. Not for a church staffer, but just for anyone who loves Jesus and is living life seeking after Him.
So I exited friday night pretty down, feeling the typical temporal displacement I feel when around other christians too much. Wondering if my role at Morning Star really ever leaves the IT guy role. Knowing that really, it doesn’t. They and I might agree that I’m a pretty good church IT guy, but the powers that be (and aren’t Jesus) think I’m definitely less than that when it comes to leading within the ministry.
And it breaks my heart to know that. To know that I’ll never fully get to live out a life of ministry in this context in this place. That hurts.
So I started to feel down. Thinking more and more of myself, I spiral second guessing every thought and decision.
But then I saw Greg Lopez at church, and he shared how he finally started coming to morning star years after me inviting him, because he loved how I loved Jesus and him during that hard time in his life.
I ran into my neighbor, who goes to morning star since I cared for their kids, and encouraged them as a parent. The two kids showed up for the easter egg hunt, and were excited to see me and say hi.
I ran into the parents of a former student who called me Pastor Jim- even when I corrected them that I’m not a pastor, they just told me I am regardless of job title.
And that’s the truth I needed to hear this weekend.
It all tied in the totally dual truths in this weekend for me- Morning Star, ministry, my job, my role, my joy- it’s not about me. I’m not happy because of how I’m being managed at morning star. John, Scott, the board- they’re all extra. They aren’t why I should love or hate my job. Really, even if things were great- if they’re the reason it’s great, then I have missed the mark.
I should love this job, because whatever the role is that Morning Star is willing to pay my bills with, whatever job title or duties they need to hold me accountable for- those are just the method of the paid bills.
Really what makes this job amazing isn’t how much I love serving Scott, Morning Star, John, the Board, or anything about this organization.
What makes this job unreal is that I get to love people, I get to share not my church organization, but I get to share JESUS with people! I get to share the fact that Jesus rose from the grave! I don’t invite people to morning star- I invite them to know Jesus, and I’m willing to admit I go to morning star. That’s how I’ve always told my high school students to share, and I just needed that lesson myself.
I’ll never sound, or even want to sound, like the life-long church folks. It’s not how God wired me, and I do believe there is great value in the fact that God made me to never forget that this whole thing is CRAZY if not for the fact that it’s TRUE. That Jesus died and came back from the dead must remain forever an insane statement to me. Not a cliche I need reminded out of, but a truth beyond reckoning that I live there and there alone. Everything that matters springs from the basics. The core truths.
I don’t care if I ever life out morning stars vision statement of “front porch bbq’s” My front porch is too small and I eat slowly enough to make shared meals a pain. But my heart beats for sharing Jesus with people. By loving people in their hard moments, by being willing to be awkward enough that it forces conversations of value with people. A lifetime supply of Christians who stay superficial and insincere has taught me what it is God made me for. And spending this weekend drowning in those that call the same church as me their home because of long term investment, and seeing the common thread that they weren’t those I met here or in other churches, but people I met who didn’t call any church home. That they were hurting and lost and in need. I’ll fix every stupid computer from now to the end of time, put up with any over-dramatized self-selected slight of pride- because this job lets me do what God put me here to do. I get to love people, share Jesus with them, see them grow. And all the best stories of that weren’t when I did it for homework or job duties. They weren’t when I constantly asked myself if this is what Scott, John, Morning Star were ok with or how they want it done. All the best cases of people who have hope now who didn’t before- those came when I asked if this is how Jesus wanted it done. If HE was ok with my methods, my character, and my personality.
So God forgive me that I ever made it about me. That I ever spent time wondering if the people who sign my paycheck liked how I love others in the way you made me. Let me live making this all not about me, not about morning star, but about YOU. For you’re the only one worth it all. I’ll be constantly slighted or over-thinking things if my validation needs to come from others. I’ll be free to do what you’ve made me to do, in the ways your spirit convicts me to do it- if I just focus on YOU. God forgive me, and make me wiser and more humble, and more centered on what your spirit asks of me. Save me from the distractions of a life lived in your shadow. I love you God. Can’t wait to see you soon, Amen.