It’s been awhile (not the Staind song…). The last time I wrote a personal post and published it online was in the Fall of 2014. It was a post looking forward to what promised to be the best year yet of ministry at my home church. It was good, don’t get me wrong. However, by March of 2015, I had resigned my job there with no idea what would come next in my life.
I lost my mojo that year. A combination of burnout and several ongoing personal and professional attacks brought me to the point of exhaustion. I couldn’t continue the path I was on…even if I didn’t know what was next.
Over the next three years, I would work in a warehouse packing boxes full of aviation-themed giftshop items, go to recording school, work the debt collection department for the family law firm, return to our home church, welcome my second daughter, sell a house, buy a house, and start my own business. What a whirlwind!
Wandering in the Wilderness
While I enjoyed each random adventure, it felt a little bit like wandering in the wilderness. I felt like I was heading somewhere. Always moving forward, but not sure I was headed in the right direction.
It’s a weird feeling. After spending 5 years doing something I loved and thought I would do forever (church ministry), I was jobless without a clue what was next. It was a difficult transition. We left a church that was not only my employer but a church that we’d attended and loved our entire life. It was the church where we met, got married and dedicated our children. It was more like leaving a family than leaving a job. We didn’t stop loving the people there. I think we just needed some space to wander, dream, and figure out what was next.
This March it will have been three years since I resigned from my job in ministry. On a professional level, I’m back to 100% and love working with churches and businesses. I’m not sure the burnout with Christianity and the Church has totally faded.
I’m a skeptic and cynic at heart. It made me a bit of an anomaly in ministry. I’m not your average happy go lucky church going white Christian. I was rightly pegged as the truth side of the ministry partnership of truth and grace. I tend to see things for what they are and call them like I see them. I’m constantly looking at things and asking, “How can we do this better?” Never once was I satisfied with mediocre or the status quo.
I think that attitude in me probably lead, in part, to the burnout. I made many incredible relationships over my years in ministry. I definitely also made a few people mad along the way. There were times when some attacked me, personally. A few people even pursued my termination behind closed doors. It was a difficult dichotomy. On one hand, I had helped grow a ministry from a handful of consistent kids to seeing over 100 per week. I worked upwards of 60 hours per week and on a part-time salary the final year. I was killing myself to do what I felt called to do, make the ministry better. On the other hand, I had people claiming I was ineffective and a detriment to the ministry of the church. It took its toll.
Reforming My Identity
It has taken me a few years of wandering in the wilderness to come to a point where I feel like I’m ready to dive back into who I am as a person of faith and as a member of the global Church. I think through that time the skeptic and cynic in me had won out. My relationship with the Church and its leadership strained.
Over the last few years, I have been terrified to write in long form, publicly. Sure, I’ll tweet things here and there, but I’ve mostly stayed away from diving into issues that matter to me on a deeper level. I’ve suppressed that urge that I’ve always had to discuss the issues on my mind and heart. I think I’m finally ready to step out there again.
“This is it. Don’t get scared, now.”
The words from my guy Kevin McAlister in Home Alone kind of sum up how I feel right now. I love discussion. I love debate. I love questioning and pushing. I love trying to come up with better ways to do things and better ways to think about things. I love faith and theology. I even love politics and culture. None of these things necessarily make for a non-confrontational life. All, together, might be necessary to live a meaningful and productive life.
So here we go. I’ve started a new website. A new blog. Whether it’s faith, fatherhood, culture, politics, or theology, I’m putting it out there. Feel free to join the discussion. I’m going to probably say a lot of dumb things. Hopefully, over time, I’ll have some helpful thoughts along the way.
I’m not sure I’ve escaped the burnout completely. The cynicism and skepticism are still there. However, I’m choosing to take a step forward. I think the world needs more people that aren’t going to sit back and think what everyone else tells them to. The Church needs people that don’t conform to “approved” Christian culture and thinking. Both need more people asking, “How can we do it better? How can we BE better?”
I’ll throw my hat in the ring. Why not? Probably no better, or worse, than anyone else here on the internets.