From time to time, someone will call me “Pastor Matt,” though it’s been nearly two years since I had that “title.” The people that do are good folks; I love them. The people that don’t fall in two camps: those that know me best, and those that want to make it clear that I’m not one of them anymore.
I’m cool with it.
I never wanted it, the title, though I came to enjoy it. I loved what I got to do, and I believe I went into it with good intentions, but position and title are powerful things. They can make you do really stupid stuff, think stupid stuff, believe stupid stuff. Without folks around you to keep you humble, you forget your first name isn’t “Pastor.” This morning I read these words from Galatians 6:3:
“For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.
I’m thankful for the years I had as a pastor. I’m thankful for the years I spent in ministry. I met some wonderful people, got to travel to Israel, learned how to teach the Bible, got to grow as a worship leader and see so many grow in their own callings. I made some friends I’ll never forget. I also went through some things I wish I could forget. But that’s ministry.
When we left, knowing God called us out, I/we fully expected to be “doing ministry” again pretty quickly.
God had other plans.
In June it will be two years since this all started. I was so cocksure then. I’m much less sure about it now. Cause you know what, I don’t know that I want it. Not the way it was, anyway. Jesus has blown up my paradigm of life and ministry and kingdom…where I was just isn’t where I want to be anymore.
Jesus is better. Crazy to think that you can be in full-time ministry and miss the truth of those 3 words, isn’t it? Crazy that you can be immersed in the Bible and miss the One the entire book is proclaiming. But it happens. Though I miss preaching, teaching, leading, counseling, I’m so very thankful He was gracious and called me out so that I could find Him again.
On top of that, I’m a mess, y’all. And so are you. Our world is B-R-O-K-E and smack in the midst of it are our broken selves. I’m not confident enough to think I’m qualified to be counseling people on all the issues they face today. And while Jesus is more than enough, the brass tacks are people still have to deal with this stuff. The pat answers and “Jesus” card don’t seem to do it. Sometimes there is a need for folks to sit with people, to listen to them, to love them, and to speak truth to them…not cliches and not sound bytes. And sometimes, people need help beyond those things.
There is also this: I lived in a four-walled world of Christianity and now those walls have been broken down. People always talk about how great a “Christian” nation is, but (especially in the Bible belt) what I’ve seen is we’ve formed a fortress of Churchianity that doesn’t have much Christ inside. We’ve created a subculture and a system that feeds itself but doesn’t reach others. We fill pews with sheep from other flocks but aren’t reaching the lost. We take paychecks to keep ourselves comfortable while the sick, lame, lonely and blind languish outside our church doors.
I don’t want that anymore.
It’s funny, but when I was on staff at the church or around my church friends, in public or private, I could talk about Jesus with the best of them. I’ve found it a whole lot harder to live it with the people I know best. I want to love my family. I want to know my neighbors. Do you know how hard that is for me to do? Most days, I don’t want to talk to anyone, but I’m trying. I’m trying, as our church here ends every service, to “love God, love people, and push back darkness” in my little corner of the world.
I’m thinking loving the people in our lives and getting up, going to work and trying to bring the light of Jesus wherever we may be is probably a greater work than any sermon I preached or song I sang.
It feels good to be Matt.
I’m okay with that.