I had a Starbuck’s meeting today with a new pastor in town this morning. He works with students and leads worship at his church. His situation reminded me of myself 8 years ago. Eight years ago I was green, right out of Bible College. When you get to the end of four years of classes, that day at graduation it is like the institution hands you this neatly wrapped box and says “Here’s your ministry.” I had no clue what ministry was about 8 years ago. Outside of a six month internship and a weekend ministry, I had no clue. No one tells you how to handle your first criticism. No one walks you through what to do when a family is crying out after a tragedy strikes. No one even told me that the best way to wade through all of that is to find a mentor who is farther along the road than me.
Here are some of the things I shared with him about being the “new guy” and some thoughts I have had since our talk:
1. You are not “him.”
There are some people who will want you to be just like the last guy. And some of those won’t participate in what you are doing because you aren’t him or you don’t do things just like he did. That’s ok. You have to do the ministry God has called you to. It may sound harsh, but if they can’t get over that they need to move on.
2. People are broken and dealing with broken people’s issues can get messy and be scary, but it is so worth it.
When I left Bible College I was scared out of my mind of people’s issues. When people would come into the church office unexpectedly to talk I would actually hide in my office. In 2000, when I started in full-time ministry, the internet was just getting rolling full-steam and no one was podcasting. I had no idea what God was doing anywhere but where I was. As I have pulled my head out of the sand and utilized technology to see what God is doing around the world, I have realized that I would rather be in a church full of broken, authentic people than one full of broken people who refuse to admit it. With the broken people is where Christ lived. Running scared is not an option when we have the power of God’s Spirit to guide us to guiding others to fullness in Christ. Guiding others to Christ may look different than what was presented in Bible College. Don’t be scared of it. This is our call. It is Christ’s “Great Dream.”