One of the weirder parts of our transition to California is that while we had at least three opportunities to share about what we were going to do in a public setting, we never got the chance to actually do it.*
So, I thought I’d take a post to share a little bit about what I/we get to do here in Oakland.
I get to help our new church build a culture of doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly in our neighborhood and city.
I get to pastor and shepherd and teach.
I get to learn and serve alongside a diverse group of people. I mean crazy diverse. In every possible way. Google employees and homeless folks, old and young, parents and kids and single folks, and on and it goes.
Amy and I are facilitating/teaching a class for 8 engaged/recently married couples and we are having a blast preparing for and interacting with this group.
I’ve been able to preach three times already.
I’m getting to build needed systems and structures.
I’m meeting with and coaching small group leaders.
I’m helping coach our Pais interns.
I get to have conversations with people who have serious questions about God.
I get to disciple.
I get to lead.
I get to be home 5 or 6 times a week to help put our kids to bed.
I get to ride my bike to work every day.
I get a sabbath.
I get to live in the most diverse city in the country, wear shorts most of the time, and hug Buster Posey (ok, that last part is a lie, but IT COULD HAPPEN).
I don’t have words to express the gratitude I feel on a daily basis.
Thank you Jesus.
*I’ve written about some personal lesson I’ve learned about transitions, but I hope to write a post soon on the leadership lessons I learned during this season.
The other day I posted this…
Purging/Downsizing in preparation for move to new apartment. One thing I’ve learned going through old boxes: In Pacific Christian Fellowship we wrote A LOT of notes!
There truly were a lot of notes. Boxes and files and folders full. Sheets of paper, post cards, picture albums, even a paper plate: all filled with words of affirmation. I guess this is how we communicated love pre-facebook.
In all honesty, I threw much of it away. Some of the notes were redundant, some had lost context over the years, some were just inside jokes. But there were many, many gems, and I saved those.
In ministry there are all sorts of channels for feedback. Very few of those channels are helpful.
You open yourself up to a lot of cuts in this line of work. Sometimes there are really big things: a big rejection, someone you thought was on your side who bails, someone who takes an offhanded statement and uses it against you. Sometimes there are really small things: comments, distancing, the reality that you ask most of the questions.
That’s the hard stuff. But then there are the beautiful words that good people speak and write to you and those words are gold.
There were a number of themes that stood out to me as a I read through all of those notes:, but these were the Big 3:
- You are funny
- You ask really good questions
- You should be a pastor
Why is it so important to be reminded of these themes”
- From time to time I’ll hear the message, directly or indirectly, that I am not fun. Fun and funny are two different things, but it was so, so good to be reminded that at one point in my life I was fun(ny) (a ringleader of fun, no less). I believe that’s still in me.
- Several notes revealed that not only were my questions “good”, they could also be “intimidating.” My current students will have a good chuckle about that. Still true. Sometimes we need to be reminded about our true selves and other times we need to see that what we do and love has been there all along.
- Welp. I’ve been told I should pastor ever since college. Even though pastoring pushes me out of what is comfortable based on my personality and preferences, there’s been an internal and external push, an undeniable call, to help people on their journey back to God.
The moral of the story, dear readers, is hold on to these words of affirmation that people give you: they are gold, they are sustenance, they are life-giving.