Not Quite as Mouthy... I'm learning, as I grow, that I don't have room to be nearly as mouthy as I used to be. You see, I suffer from a horrible case of pride and have always had a tendency to be "right" about everything, and glad to let you know about it. As I've been a pastor for 3 and a half years now, I've been surprised at how consistently I've been wrong. Beyond that, even when I'm right I've been surprised at how difficult it can be to make the right decisions.
Let's be honest. Leadership hurts at times. I try and lead in the direction that I think is most honoring to God and, even in my small church, there is still some disagreement. We press on, attempting to build unity, but even in the midst of unity, it's rare to have unanimity. In that lack of unanimity there is generally someone who is hurt by tough decisions. They get personally involved, or they misunderstand, or they're simply not at the place that the rest of the church, or staff is. So hurt is created.
Secondly, I've learned that things are not nearly as cut and dried as they used to be. When I first started traveling as an itenerant preacher (at age 17) I knew everything about everything. I was always confident of the right course. As I've grown I've found that the right course is often hard to discern.
As an example: our church budget runs from July through June. In the 3.5 years I've been at Missouri Valley, we have increased our budget around 175%. God has been good to us and we've done something that is generally considered impossible. For the first time since I've been there, however, this year we are going to finish the year slightly under budget. (not much under, but enough under) It's not a really big deal, but I feel like we've got to be financially responsible as a church if we're to have a testimony of faithfulness to our people and the community, and so we've slightly reduced our budget this year to help compensate. As we did so, I had to tell some people in our church that some of the ministries that were particuarly personal to them would recieve less funding. That was horrible. There is simply no good way to do it. Yet, if we are to be faithful as a church, we have to do this. We have to set the example.
I think I've rambled alot, but after our business meeting tonight I was thinking about these things. I've spent alot of time lately, thinking about the mistakes I've made (and believe me, they are legion) as the pastor at Missouri Valley. These mistakes have caused me to reflect and change in order to be more consistent as their pastor, but they've also occasionally caused me to hurt some people which bothers me immensely. They've also helped me to value and love my people more, because Missouri Valley folks love me anyway and keep joining together with me so that we can keep trying crazy stuff together in an attempt to reach our community that somehow God seems to bless.
I think the end result of what I have been trying to say is that I've learned so much over the past few years about how little I really am compared to my miscontrued concept of myself. Greater than that, however, is the fact that I've learned that I serve the greatest church in the country, filled with passionate people who love Jesus (who deserves their love) and who somehow love me (who doesn't). I'm thankful for God's grace, and MVBC's grace that helps me live with myself even when I get a little too mouthy, and helps correct me at the same time!
Thanks for helping me to be a little less mouthy, and thanks for loving me even when I am.