Andrea, you need to meet this guy and hear what he has to say about West. He stopped me in the gym and told me what West was doing in his life. You need to know that what you do makes a difference.” Words uttered by Gary Heck one afternoon during worship planning.
The irony of the timing with this is I was in a personal quandary about my “calling and career.” I was doing the “annual fall soul search” and was coming up short. (In United Methodist circles we do this once a year, as pastors are appointed on a year by year basis).
Typically this is an easy prayer . . . “God, am I where you want me to be?” Not this year. All I heard was silence.
October 7, 2018 I preached my shortest message ever (literally – it was 14 minutes).
As I preached, I pictured myself saying, “Hey West folks, look. I’m just not what you need anymore because my soul is tired. Yes, I am embarrassed because I know that I’ve done this to myself. I didn’t listen to the wise sages who’ve gone before me that said, ‘Honor your day off. Put your phone away and quit answering texts/emails at a certain time. It is ok to say no.’ But I didn’t listen. I thought I was invincible and now, I know I am not and it is too late.”
Literally as I walked off-stage I muttered out loud, “Well, that’s it for me. It is the last sermon I’ll preach.”
Ironically enough . . . God was in my brokenness.
My friends were waiting for me . . . “You’ve got to tell folks you need some time . . .”
And leadership – what an amazing gift they were, “Let me see your eyes. You are tired . . . we must find a way to give you some time . . .”
The staff could sense I was tired, “What can I do to help take some things off your plate?”
My small group, where I was embarrassed to admit that I just couldn’t quite keep my same pace, “How could you NOT be burned out? Look at the past 8 years?”
Over the next four weeks conversations happened, doors opened, and I was given the most amazing gift – the time/space needed to find my inner peace and reconnect with God in an absolute life-changing way.
At the end of the month I met with the gentleman who spoke with Gary. “West has helped me reconnect with my faith in a way I did not know possible. I worship and I understand and have a new deepened relationship with God.”
Those were words that gave new life to me, for that is why I do what I do each day!
How did all that happen?
Because leaders in faith knew what Richard Rohr stresses as a new principle in emerging Christianity . . . “Affirming people’s potential is far more important than reminding them of their brokenness.”
I am almost 100% certain had they taken that time to remind me of my brokenness and where I’d failed, I would have hung up my ministry credentials and gone back into teaching. (Or being a Walmart greeter – I think I’d be ok at that!)
Having people love me through my brokenness was far more effective and now, a year later, I stand called, firm, filled, and ready.
It’s time the “church” offers that gift to every-body! That is how Jesus lived . . . perhaps we should too.
Grace and Peace,