10 Lessons from 10 Years at CrossPointe continues with. . .
Lesson #2: The church is God’s, not mine.
Pastoring a church reminds me of the time my Dad let me drive his car to the Senior Prom. I was looking sharp and feeling good! I had the keys to this really nice car, and I couldn’t wait to get out on the town in it. All the while, I was keenly aware that it was not my car. I had specific instructions on where to take it and how to take it there. I better not dream of doing anything beyond that or Heaven forbid, wrecking it. That car did wind up at the beach that night, but that’s a story for another time.
Shortly after the merger that created CrossPointe Church, we were hit with the news that the sale of our property had fallen through. The circumstances that facilitated the merge were no more. In hindsight, I see what the Lord was orchestrating. But in the moment, my world was spinning. I spent a lot of time praying (honestly, I was complaining) to God, asking “What in the world is going on?” I thought we had it all planned out. In response, I got this second lesson.
It’s His church. And Jesus is the head of His church. (Colossians 1:18) So there is no use in trying to make any plans or plot any course of action without Him. And even the plans that He leads us to follow, He can change whenever He wants. He calls the shots. I obediently execute whatever He calls me to do, hopefully without complaining and questioning. Ultimately, He cares more about His church and its well-being than I even know how to. I learned to let it go and to be OK with it.
This leads me to…
Lesson #3: There is no autopilot! I’ve got to steer the ship!
While it is His church, not mine, the office and responsibility of Pastor is mine. There is no autopilot setting for the church. It’s not a crockpot or convection oven from some late night informercial where you, “Set it and forget it!!” The church is a fully operational battleship that is designed to be moving forward toward a goal. That goal, a preferred future, is what we call vision. As the pastor, my job is to discern the vision from the Lord, set the course, communicate it to the crew, and steer the ship in that direction. In the early days, I was timid and fearful of wrecking the ship. I hoped there was enough momentum to carry us along, while I figured out how to pump out sermons weekly and put out fires where they sprung up. The Bible says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” (Proverbs 29:18) And when the pastor doesn’t set the direction and lead the people toward a vision, they will try to make their own way. Without unity in purpose and effort, the ship loses momentum and comes to a standstill.
This was a hard lesson to learn. It’s a lonely place where shame and embarrassment come to visit you nightly and steal the energy you need to get through the next day. However, I am thankful that God has surrounded me with strong mentors and a great staff who aren’t afraid to confront me with hard truths. I am thankful that God is patient with me and believed in me as His undershepherd long before I did. I am thankful for a church that has loved me through my shortcomings and the long learning curve I’ve been on.
10 years in and I believe I’ve got a pretty good grip on the wheel. God has my attentive ear. The course is set. The crew is motivated, and we are moving forward, full speed ahead!