Life’s Too Short – Reality Check

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.

Love God.

Love Others.

It’s really the only way to live. I guess that is the most solid theology I can muster.

11 thoughts on “Life’s Too Short – Reality Check”

  1. It’s the damn King James version that is translated “abide”…. old habits are hard to break.John 15:4-5 says: <>Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.<>That’s pretty much the verses I think of when I say I cannot live a life that is separate from my Creator. It’s a connection I am seeking and desiring… that’s the journey I am on.

  2. Steve,Ok, I understand that. To abide is to tolerate or be patient with. So, if you believe, if you obey and if you find no fault with God or his son, is that abiding?

  3. Sorry – I don’t think I clarified…the verse I quoted above is New International version which substitues the word “remain” for “abide”.Eugene Peterson in The Message translates it as “Live in me” and later “joined with me”.i think it is the word picture of the vine and the branches that gives a true indication of the type of relationship we are to have with God and Jesus.

  4. Steve,Thanks for opening your heart and being honest. You are always an encouragment to me. I also have tried to distill the relationship to God, Jesus Christ, and The Kingdom – love God, love others – that is it. My energies are well spent in this pursuit. Keep it up my friend.Pete

  5. Nudnik… I couldn’t answer your questions definitively one way or the other. I think you, like me, are on a journey. That journey will take you places that are happy and sad, good and bad, interesting and frustrating… it’s quite a ride this journey we are on.My advice is always to keep searching, never stop asking questions, and be willing to accept responsibility for your life. Look to your Creator… he is the one that knows you better than anyone else. Depend on him to meet your deepest, most heartfelt needs. I hope this doesn’t sound like too many platitudes, but I have discovered in my own life that when I try to live too independant of my Creator is when I have reached my lowest points. It is imperative I connect with him… and that connection can occur in many more places than at church on Sundays. Thanks for hanging around the site and contributing your thoughts here.

  6. Steve,I agree with Pete. I think somewhere I read that love is the greatest commandment of all, which says it all so well. Were there any commandments about chicanery? As long as the intent is good, I suppose…

  7. Steve,Thank you for quote from John. I agree completely. It is just knowing when I am or am not being a branch that puzzles me. I think I am. I trust I am. It would be easier to believe if I were a member of a group but for various reasons I am not. Maybe that is the way it is meant to be for me as we all have a unique journey. Communicating here, this is connection.

  8. Steve,Thanks for the advise. I am not sure what you meant when you said “…to live too independent of my Creator…” maybe it will sink in later.

  9. Say, I am attracted to your views as I have struggled most of my life trying to come to terms within myself regarding just what religious beliefs I have. I have reached a conclusion about my religious belief and at the end of this writing, I have a question. If you have the time to read this and answer my question, that would be great and I would appreciate it.I consider myself a Christian but I am not among the organized Church goers. I am a believer in Christ and I do have faith. It took me about 54 years to figure this out as I believed the many people who called themselves Christians and who in evangelizing for their organizations, their sects, had implied that you have to be a member of an organized group to be a Christian. Now after much soul searching and with the help of support by some Christians like you, who in their own way evangelize over the internet; I can see myself as a Christian as I am.I have believed in Christ since I was nine years old and have had the highest opinion of him since then; a good opinion of him higher than that I have of any other human. And I believe in him based on the words I read and do not have a need to see him to believe. His story and his words are powerful enough for me, to stand on their own.In essence, he is believable to me even with his miraculous elements. I refuse to doubt him because he has so much integrity and I can believe that there are mysteries I do not understand.I have had bad experiences with every Church I have ever joined or tried to join. I do not blame other people for this; I blame myself now (that has not always been the case). I find most sermons I have heard annoying, seeming to miss the big picture. I have had bad experiences with many people who call themselves Christians but not all. By the end of a typical visit to a Church, I find that I am in the middle of a panic attack because I feel so confused by all the conflicting messages I am getting.I am a loner by nature. My parents did not go to church and strongly discouraged me from going. I disobeyed them at the age of nine to go to Church for about a year. For the most part, this was the one good experience I had with Church. My parents had also discouraged me from joining any organization as both my parent’s believed that group pressure brings out the worst in people and that it is best to maintain an independent spirit.I have tried to join numerous groups over the years of different types both religious and non-religious and I have come to similar conclusions. I look at what many churches are doing today and I feel that their leadership is distorting the words of the bible and I want no part of it, nor do I want to be identified with these people. In fact, I would more likely, actively resist them.My big thing has never been to be saved eternally after I die. That is not what attracts me to Christ. I am attracted to him because he is someone worth following whether he saves me eternally or not. I follow him because I KNOW he is right. My belief is like that of a child even though I am not a child and have put away all childish things, except this knowing.My idea of church is disorganized and happens when it happens. Sometimes it happens with people who call themselves Christians and sometimes it happens with people who don’t. My idea of service is living; I try to be service whatever I am doing; most of the time I fall short.In your opinion, am I on the wrong path about this, and if so, what am I doing wrong?

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