This was one of the questions from Grace Family’s Next Level Leaders. I actually get this question every now and then. It is always a compliment when someone asks – it’s nice to know that someone thinks you have something to say. Ironically, it was probably one of the greatest challenges I ever faced as member of the GFC staff.
The church had been going for about ten years and I was one of the regular speakers when Pastor Craig was not in the pulpit. Sounds impressive but there was only the two of us pastors for a while and even adding more staff was geared toward building other needs of the church. One day, Craig and I are going through our weekly meeting and he says, “Chris, I need to tell you that you are not going to be a primary speaker at Grace anymore. You are a good speaker but we have other guys who are more gifted to preach than you. Plus, I have a lot of other things that I want you to do.” Shock, awe and insecurity raced through me as quick as he finished speaking the words. Questions reverberated in my head – “How can you be a pastor and not speak?” “What does this look like?” “What do I do if I am not speaking?” All valid questions but they were all couched in one word – FEAR.
I asked Craig if I could pray about it over the weekend. I wish I could say that I was a rock of faith but I started pretty angry about the whole thing. “All those times I filled in and now this?” “Didn’t God work in people’s lives? “What about all the times in the past – were they not good enough?” After a while, my anger switched back to the fear mode. If you think a pastor doesn’t go through these emotions in our daily challenges, you are wrong. No one gets a Fast Pass through life’s challenges. After letting anger and fear win for a few hours, a small thought changed it all.
“Do you trust Craig?”
I chewed on this one question for a while. I can say then and to this day, the answer is emphatically “yes!” Craig has always done an amazing job of being my boss but he has done an even more amazing job being my pastor. Could I trust him in the hundreds of decisions he made about GFC – you bet! He truly hears from God and brings tremendous vision to our church. The results are the thousands of people who have received Christ over the years. So many lives changed because of his leadership. So now, one of those decisions focused on me and it isn’t going in my favor. Then, the next question hits me…
Can you trust me in this?
I chewed on this one for a while as well. It’s like telling a MLB pitcher he is going to start throwing with the opposite hand. It just didn’t make sense, I didn’t see any answers and my identity/ security was going to change in a big way. Can I trust God when all that is pointed in a different direction? God has a way of challenging me from the inside out. My circumstances that you can see is nothing compared to the battle zone of my mind. In the end, I wrestled to the point of realizing that I needed to obey God and Craig in this area.
I went in on Monday and talked with Craig about it. I told him that I prayed about it and will do whatever he feels is best. Craig said, “You will still speak, just not as much.” He outlined some different projects that he wanted me to work on and that was it. We both went with the decision and got to work.
So here is the kicker…I believe it was one of the most pivotal and BEST decisions he ever made at GFC. I see now that it really propelled me into the realm that best uses my gifts of leadership and maximizer. It gave me the ability to focus on my projects that were instrumental in GFC’s growth. I moved into the role of an executive pastor that began to open up more doors of growth. I discovered that one of my greatest joys is empowering others to use their gifts at the highest level. Not trying to sound arrogant but I believe that our church would not be where it is today if I do not go through this process. (Let me quickly add, there are a number of key staff and leaders who I could say this about – this just happens to be part of my journey.) Finally, I found out I do like speaking – to groups of leaders, staffs athletes, businessmen and other who are making an impact. Instead of the thousands, I make a better impact with teaching and interacting with those groups. I truly love it!
Honestly, I don’t really miss speaking. Every year, P. Craig asks me if I want to speak and says if I feel like God gives me a message, I have the green light to share. I appreciate it when he does – like I said, he is a great pastor and boss. I have yet to say “Yes” because I truly don’t want to disrupt the role and projects I am fulfilling now. I will if the Lord prompts me to but I am really content and secure in who I am in Christ now. (Another amazing decision/ journey.)
I will end it on a high note. I do actually speak each year – I have assumed the role of Christmas Eve, 11pm speaker. (Anyone who knows me, knows that I get up around 4am and go to bed most days at 9:30 pm – God does have a sense of humor.) Pastor Mark Q started this service and when he left, I was given the responsibility. It has grown into a large service. I am amazed when I realize how many people are still awake and come together for the last service of a crazy busy Christmas week. I have grown to love this time slot – very much about traditions I love and time with my family. Last year, I had the honor of closing the service with my son singing behind me, while I prayed holding my grandson. That was pretty special. I still stand in awe when we light each person’s candle and worship the new born king…amazing!
I still get asked about speaking – thank you for the compliment and the kind words. The whole journey means more than you will ever know…