This summer I had the opportunity to travel to India. As it turns out the trip was catalytic for me in huge way. Coming home I had a very basic thought, “I have traveled to the other side of the world, I should somehow be different.” From that point I could feel something was about to change. However, I did not know if that change would be external or internal change. As it turns out it was internal.
There were 4 influences that helped bring about this understanding of change and my trip to India was the tipping point:
- Since June the pastors and elders of TNL have been meeting almost weekly for intentional discipleship. This have been a great time of reflection, encouragement and accountability.
- Speaking of accountability, as a result of the afore mentioned discipleship group, I was challenged to go see a counselor. The intent was to have someone, a professional, poke around in the dark corners of the heart’s closet, to point out my blind spots and to reveals connections in my life I could not see. So for the summer I told my story, revealed my fears and let a total stranger into the most personal spaces of my head and heart. It was a fascinating time of perspective and learning.
- For the better part of a year I have been meeting with a mentor. Another pastor in town who is a bit older than me, further in his spiritual journey than me and leads a different kind of church then I do. But we share the same kind of job (we are both the main teachers in our church communities), we have done ministry in the same area of SoCal, and we have similar education paths. Over the summer we have been talking about leadership, which is his specialty. In these conversation he has challenged me to understand my role as a leader both personally and vocationally.
- Then there was the 2 weeks in India.
While not seeing all of these things add up until recently, I just knew something needed to change. As I thought about it, I initially thought God was telling me to be more, well, me. I thought he wanted me to be more of who I am. This only posed a new problem for me. If you ask me who I am, who I really am, I would tell you I am lazy, angry, frustrated, depressed, greedy and lustful.
As I was thinking about this, I heard a clarification from God. God did not want me to me, but he wanted me to be who he created me to be. This was entirely different then what I thought he said. So, I had to push through my Reformed bent, through my total depravity, into being a new creation in Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.
The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
As a new creation in Christ I am no longer the great litany of garbage I mentioned above. I am new. Because of Christ, I can be who God created me to be. God was calling me to be who he had originally intended me to be before sin got in the way.
Here are a few places I have found myself being authentic and honest about who God has created me to be:
- In conversations where I am actually interested in what other people are saying.
- In use of humor.
- In my leadership and care of the TNL staff.
- In my teaching and preaching.
- In voicing my options, views and discernment.
- In my encouragement of other people.
- In my joy at their success and achievement.
- In reclaiming responsibilities I have abdicated.
- In my communication with Debra.
Please don’t think that I have solid grasp on who I am, because I don’t. I am just now, at 41, beginning to understand and live out who God has created me to be.