A Sabbatical Reflection: Be Who I am In Christ

I’m not sure of all the reasons why, but it has always been easy for me to try and be what others perceive I ought to be. I know some reasons. There was lots of trauma in my childhood, and this is not the place to deal with that. I’ve been honored to have that help in healing from the means of the Lord’s healing and His appointed means of a good soul doctor (Christian counselor). That trauma taught me how to be what I need to be to preserve some semblance of my soul.

Religious systems don’t help. They are part of what helps apostolic leaders from pushing into new territory. In ministry we have created a ministry in the image of corporate America that does not make room in the church for what some of us are created to be in Christ and do the good works he prepared beforehand to be walked in. I’m not the traditional pastor. I’m more “apostolic”. I know that makes some nervous, but you are going to have to wrestle with the ascension gifts of Jesus in Ephesian 4. I’m also prophetic. So, the system tells me to not push forward into new frontiers, rather cultivate the old wine skins. Put some ointment on it so it doesn’t crack. Be a maintainer of the status quo so people will come to your Sunday service or Wednesday night programming.

Systems tell me to not say “that”, it might cause people to leave. Systems are set up to provide “ministry” not “opportunity”. No one wants opportunity. People want a spiritual product, or they shop for one that will supply what their tithe ought to supply…value!

Relationships, unfortunately, are part of what suppresses certain giftings. People “ghost” ministry leaders, and it’s not even thought on further. “Ghosting” is a term I learned in walking through some healing with my soul doctor. It means people are there, then they are gone without even a hint of closure. You spend time caring for, leading, giving your life away, working more than you should to bring to life this body by the Spirit’s power only for people to leave you and the relationship for something better. Even worse, they’ll trash you behind your back, and then shake your hand at events as if all is well. That leaves voids in the soul. That leaves hurt. That leaves unanswered questions.

That kind of stuff leaves thoughts like, “so, just be the kind of leader people won’t hurt”. This makes it hard to “let people in”, because people will take, take, take, and then leave you. We’ve also discovered that people will speak evil of you, nudge you out, and then avoid you as if you are the epitome of the bad guy.

Christian sub-culture has not been good for me. I’ve found that some non-Christians know how to be better friends than people inside the sub-culture. Strange. That’s another post for another day.

So, the tension is to be what God made and is making or be what avoids hurt and just preserves what is.

I have discovered during my sabbatical there is this boiling and evil and fallen “thing” below the surface that is always clawing the redeemed me back into the cover of safety.

To be that person that is tired, hurt, operating outside gifting etc., leaves only room for crashing and burning and letting that “thing” win. I’ve been that. Frankly, I’m surprised that I made it this long (16 years, and the last 3 “full-time”) working multiple jobs, leading a church plant, traveling around the world, peacemaking, etc. before I needed to fill the tank. Don’t misunderstand, I am not in sin or about to pass from the earth, but I could feel my soul running on empty and my desires for the work dying.

The tank is filling up, and I’m about to burst if I don’t preach soon, meet with our pastors and leaders and guide them, and push TRC forward into continued paradigm shifts that serve 7 billion people not simply the few in Rome. Yes, we intend to be a church for 7 billion by releasing our people to the world, not simply putting butts in seats. Butts in seats is a terrible metric for effectiveness in the Great Mission of Jesus.

But in order to do this more effectively than we’ve ever done it before, I’m going to have to be who I am in Christ and who I’m becoming more in Christ. Not a jerk. This is not some justification for being a jackleg. No, I may be gentler and calmer than I’ve ever been. My tone may be toned down a bit, but there is a focus that is returning that’s good and right and healthy for me, and I trust for TRC.

So, TRC, I’m looking forward to being back “in the saddle”. It was great to worship with you Sunday. I love who we are, TRC, let’s keep leaning into that more and more.

The gospel of the kingdom, really does make disciples who can hear and obey, and those disciples really can engage the whole world with their vocations in their domain, and every disciple really is a church planter through the RL group. When we lean deeper and harder into that DNA, we will be a church for 7 billion from right here in Rome, GA.

Let’s go get some!

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