9 Months After Moving To Colorado

Well, it’s been 9 months since we moved to Colorado Springs from Georgia.  There has been A LOT that has happened in that short window of time.  This has been the most difficult stage of my life in 25 years of marriage and ministry…hands down!   A few months ago I wrote a post about taking a break from blogging for a season.  I’m still not blogging regularly until December, but I felt compelled to post this update.

Colorado Springs is amazing!  It is beautiful, has very few bugs, and virtually zero humidity.  I see the majestic Pikes Peak every day…multiple times a day.  But simply living in a beautiful place doesn’t necessarily make the experience beautiful.

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You see, when we moved to Colorado I left behind a son, an incredible church family, and a ministry career that had become my identity.  I didn’t know it while traveling across the country in a 26 foot U-Haul truck, but I was about to spend the next 3 months lost, confused, and depressed.

First, the family unit split in two.  We originally thought we were just moving with our youngest two sons.  Then just hours before hitting the road our oldest child asked to move with us.  This is her story so I’ll allow her to tell it on her own another time.  But this is a huge reason God led us to Colorado.

Our oldest son had a career and friends in GA and decided to get his own place and stay there.  My wife and I blessed his choice to stay, but I really struggled (honestly, I still am) moving without him.  I guess it’s a natural part of the whole ’empty nesting’ thing….but it really sucks!

Once we arrived here, I began working at a popular coffee shop.  Every coffee-lover’s dream job, right?  I have also been working hard to complete my Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology online.  After working there for about a month or so, I hit a wall.  For 2-3 weeks I remember feeling anxious and emotional driving to work.  There were even a few times I had to pray that God would strengthen me to overcome the flood of tears so I could perform like a ‘normal’ barista.  Those tears were sure to come later in solitude moments in my bedroom.  One evening here, another there…just me and Jesus.  Real men do cry, so don’t judge.

It was in this brief season that I realized that I had allowed ministry (being a pastor) to become my entire identity.  Loss of title, income, and the comfort of knowing a job well.  When you’ve done nothing besides pastoring full-time for over 20 years it’s not the easiest thing to transition out of that world and into retail coffee at 45 years old.

Slowly, I began to realize that God had me in a new, very specific, season on purpose.  First and foremost, I was to enjoy really being there for my wife and kids without the demanding work schedule of ministry.  Second, He was aligning  co-workers and customers at the coffee shop for me to interact with…to live my faith out for them.

In March of 2016 I had the honor of speaking at a Children’s Pastors conference in Kentucky.  This was a true gift directly from the hand of God to me.  He knew I needed this.  I loved it!  I got to share my ministry experiences with young leaders, and then encouraged them after each talk.  This rekindled a fire for ministry in me.

Yes, we left an amazing church in Georgia, but God led us to another one.  (we thought this would be impossible).  My wife, Cailey, is serving PT on staff there now working with kids and equipping leaders.  I am volunteering in the Connect ministry to help people discover a meaningful and fulfilling place of service in God’s community.

Most recently, the Lord provided me with a new job working with a medical bill sharing ministry.  Another new experience, but I’m trusting God in it completely.  Cailey and I have also begun co-writing our first book.  We welcome your prayers with this.

What does He have in store for me in the next 5-10 years?  I don’t have a clue and I’ve given up trying to figure it out ahead of time.  I used to have this quote hanging in my church office.  Now it is mounted above our couch in the living room.

“The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you.”

This has proven to be true in my life and I’m confident it will be in yours as well.  My Jesus is faithful, he knows what he’s doing, and he really does care more about my personal success and happiness than I ever can.

Here’s to another year of adventure, obedience, and remaining in Him!

 

 

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4 Ways To Embrace Failure

How does failure affect you?

Every new venture has the potential to succeed or fail. ..BUT only if you actually take a risk.  This is very true for churches when they launch their first multisite campus as well.  Nine months since our launch and the lessons continue to flood in weekly.

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Recently, our streaming video teaching failed in a BIG way!  So I thought I’d write about it (insert smirk).  What exactly happened and why is less important than actually taking steps to ensure that this virtually does’t happen again.  Our team got together during the week, collaborated, and agreed on a process.  All I can say is that the next campus our church launches should be much better off as a result of the lessons we’ve learned.

So, what are we to do when things go wrong…whether we caused it or not?  The choice is up to you and I.

Here are 4 ways to EMBRACE failure.

1)  Expect it | What we can see coming (to a degree) prepares us to better deal with it mentally when it hits.  It’s like a warning.  And I’m not talking about pessimism either.  Reality and experience teach us that failures are a part of life.

2)  Don’t fear it | Fear can keep us from taking future risks.  Fear screams, “Don’t even try that!”  Here’s the thing, fear of failure crowns complacency as King.  We don’t want that.

3)  Learn from it | Failures not learned from are usually repeated.  If you continue to stub your toe on the same item when you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom, don’t you eventually move that item?  Learning usually requires some level of adjustment.  Leaders who don’t learn from their failures fail to grow.

4)  Share it | Grab a huge piece of humble pie, own your “Well that didn’t go as I had hoped” moment, and help others to grow their leadership from your experience.  Most of the incredibly helpful leaders I have learned from in the past 20 years of ministry realized that sharing their personal mishaps actually helps further Kingdom work.  It offers hindsight to younger, less experienced leaders.

In a recent interview, Jon Acuff said, “I like the 39 year old me better than the 29 year old me, and I hope the 49 year old me feels the same.”

I think that can apply to leaders too.  Think about it.  Ten years from now don’t you hope to be a stronger leader than you are today?

Leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.