I am continually humbled by the role I play in God’s work. Not that this is about me at all – I actually am realizing how little I have to offer to the real life issues that the people I speak to each week are dealing with. On any given weekend there are people who are dealing with loved ones with life threatening illnesses, couples feeling helpless as they desire to have a child but are unable, folks who just lost a job, had an unexpected financial crisis, are dealing with depression, anxiety, relational pain, couples on the verge of divorce, parents whose kids have wandered far from their roots, singles contemplating a life alone and countless other life realities. And then there are people who are coming off of amazing weeks where a promotion was granted, a graduation from 4 long years of school, a new job, a new baby, a fun vacation, an engagement, or countless other windfalls. And finally there are a group of people who are neither experiencing a big high or low low – they’re just doing their thing, working, living and enjoying friendships and life in general.
This weekend is Father’s Day weekend and it’s also ironically the birthdays of 2 of my 3 daughters who allow me to have the title “Dad”. So I thought maybe I could share a little about what it’s been like to be a dad. For those of you who don’t know, my oldest daughter will be 12 this weekend, then there’s my 9 year old and finally my (today) 6 year old! They are all girls, who along with my wife and my dog (who’s also a female) I am completely outnumbered, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being a dad is the most humbling, exhilarating, fun, difficult, happy, challenging and fulfilling experience one can have. I am regularly reminded how much I need God as I feel the weight of leading and loving well in my home. Being a dad has caused me to pray and to care more than I ever felt possible. There have been many times I’ve teared up thinking about how quickly time is flying and wanting to savor every single second. Last night as we watched TV I had two of my daughters, one on each side who both put their heads on my shoulders and just laid there watching the show. And to know that these girls feel safe and cared for around me was the most powerful Father’s Day gift I could receive.
Church is an interesting animal. It’s an organism, a living thing made up of many parts/ members. It’s also an organization with structure, direction and strategy. Some see church as something “good for you” like eating vegetables. Others see church as a social network for friendships, dates and activity. Others see church as a dispenser of biblical knowledge and discipleship. And the challenge for someone like me (as a pastor) is navigating through very different, yet all true in part perceptions of church. What I’m not sure of is if all these perspectives are meant to be balanced or if they all are part of a bigger purpose or function? As a leader in the church, are we called to program in the various aspects of church, ensuring we have equal opportunities for it all, or is there something more?
Language is an interesting thing. You can learn a lot about a person not just by what they say but how they say it. The words one chooses to describe things will reveal how they view that thing. In my world, I notice it when people talk about church. Some will say, “that church” to describe a church that they are aware of, maybe have even attended, but at most they see themselves as a visitor or an outsider. There are some that will describe a church as “this church” which usually means they attend said church but still have it at arms length, seeing it maybe more as an organization than something they are personally engaged with and involved in. Then there are those who will say “my church” and will refer to a church they love, they’re invested in and where they feel they belong. As a pastor I listen to how people describe the church they attend because it gives insight into where they are. Many times this is part of the process, in fact the typical progression of someone new to a church is from that->this->my. The problem comes when you’ve been attending for a while and still referring to it as that or this.