My “Life’s Too Short” posts have mainly been about my experiences in ministry.
However, they started with an initial public confession to let go of some anger I had in my life unrelated to the institutional church. It was a personal statement meant to be a marker in my life. As I reflected on that confession, it seemed important to me to share some of my story and church history as a way of communicating both the good and the bad of what it means to be a minister in the church. It is meant to be a glimpse behind the curtain of one man’s experience as a “professional Christian”.
This post will return to the highly personal category. It is a reality check of sorts as to what is important in life. It is a reminder to me that life is a fragile, unknown commodity that we must cherish. It is too easy to stay angry, or stay stuck, or look backwards or have a brainful of “what ifs”, “what shoulds” and “what might have beens”.
In continuation of my last post, life is too short to live fighting in church meetings, running from petition signers and battling deacon boards. Life is also too short to have as your epitaph, “he had solid theology and was an effective church planter” as some Emergent church leader described what he wanted to be known for. Just over a year ago, I was spending a majority of my life working, trying to think of ways to make money, stay afloat financially and consumed with being an important “player” in the circles I ran. This cost me valuable time with the people I loved and took my focus off what was truly important.
After Cristi and I separated, I spent a tremendous amount of energy here at SCP. This was a transference of sorts from one good thing to another good thing, and I thank God for the distractions of SCP…but it too wasn’t that important. You can get lost doing lots of good things and miss out on very valuable things… like the people in your life. One reason I got into ministry was because I wanted to minister to people the way the church ministered to me when my dad died at the age of twelve. I wanted, in some way, to give back to the church (people) what had been given to me.
I have completely lost that focus. In ways, I have completely lost my mind on this subject. Recently I was told I was a completely thoughtless and hurtful individual because I failed to take into account a friends feelings. Instead of responding appropriately, I defended my actions and tried to spin the story in my favor. Yesterday, I was informed of something my son had shared about wanting to be closer to me, and my only response was to make excuses and defend myself and my actions. I am a sad, selfish individual. If I died today, my epitaph could read, “Still Ego-Driven After All These Years”.
Now, I still see glimpses of the old Steve in here occasionally. I am capable of reaching out to others, I just choose to do the opposite most of the time. A slogan of many churches these days is “Love God, Love Others”. I have seen that many places and once adopted it for my own mission statement. It’s really all God requires of us to please Him.
Cristi and I have a friend named Ginger that has been in the background of life over the past year. Her story has served as an undercurrent to much of the turmoil in my life. Occasional thoughts of her and her situation only made me feel guilty, so I quickly ignored it or buried it so as to stay in my own little world. It felt so good to live and wallow in the mud and muck of self-pity. It’s time to get out of that pit. To get back to the very basics of life. The golden rule comes to mind, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I learned that when I was 5 or 6 years old.
I don’t think I am thoughtless, I just think I am action-less. Over the past year I have transcribed many good thoughts on subjects, but I have taken very little (if any) action. It doesn’t have to be grandiose. It can be the smallest of things. Telling someone they are special. Sending them a card to let them know you are thinking about them. Not just saying you will get together for that lunch, but actually scheduling that lunch to get together. Taking my kids to the park more, playing games, singing silly songs… making memories. I don’t like these confessions, because I might be required to do something about them. People are watching…both big and small. I have a responsibility to live my life in service to others. Hmph…what do you know, I still have a calling after all.
It’s really the only way to live. I guess that is the most solid theology I can muster.