My life has been utter chaos over the last 18 months or so. If you have followed my blog you know that I was involved in an exciting church plant in California last year. I went from disappointment to excitement to being crushed. The amount of stress put on my wife and I has been tremendous. We moved from Michigan to California (with our own money) then from California to Texas (again with our own money). We couldn’t afford to get all of our stuff to Texas so we had to put it in storage. Which meant making a trip back to California in a plane and another driving trip to Texas.
People often ask me ‘Why would you ever leave California and come to East Texas?’ That’s a very good question indeed that has a complicated answer. First off, why did I even go to California in the first place?
Just four short years ago I was living in Virginia, running my own successful home improvement business, working part-time as a youth pastor with some awesome teens, and going to school part-time. Things were going great but they couldn’t last long. I had to eventually move to Michigan to complete my Master’s degree in Divinity. So we moved to Michigan in December of 2010. It’s important to note that I know God called me to go to the seminary.
I had one year of school left when I got an amazing offer to work at a church plant (January 2013). I had been frustrated with school (I’m not a fan of homework) and with the fact that everyone in that little town in SW Michigan were “Christians” but not many people wanted anything to do with reaching out to non-Christians. I saw a huge disconnect between what the gospel teaches and what the thousands of Christians there practiced. I was frustrated and was ready to leave.
Back to the offer to work in a church plant. Not only was it a great opportunity to reach people for the kingdom of God, we were going to work with our two best friends and their families. This seemed like a dream come true. Well, we worked together for six months last year. It wasn’t what I was expecting. We had good times, but it was mostly frustrating. The head pastor who invited us there had no experience with working in teams and couldn’t handle us. His leadership was very poor and things quickly got out of hand.
I have never been the one to keep my mouth shut. I have always had problems with authority. So when things are wrong I say something. So, I did. I confronted him on all the things going wrong. I’m sure I said things wrong or said things I shouldn’t have. Eventually, I guess he got tired of it. He told me that I was never really a part of the plans in that church. He felt sorry for me (I still don’t know why), so he decided to invite us out but withheld vital information from me, which, if I would have known, I would have never left Michigan.
They said I didn’t know how to get along with non-Christians. I find this odd since all of my best friends have always been non-Christians. I didn’t grow up as a Christian. I’ve always been around non-Christians. In fact, I find it harder to get along with Christians. So, the church planting organization didn’t think I was worthy to be a church planter but they didn’t tell me that until after I left school with one year left. After I spent $3,500 of my money to move halfway across the country. After I sold many of my possession to work full-time in a church with only part-time money. After I got my hopes up with the people of that city.
I was crushed. I was angry. No, I was furious. I was angry at the people who lied to me, who deceived me. I got even more angry when they refused to acknowledge it and take responsibility for their actions. I got even more angry when they lied to our friends. And, I was angry at myself. I was angry because I realized I disobeyed God. I was never supposed to move to California. God called me to go to Michigan to finish my degree. I didn’t. I would be done by now. Now all my friends have graduated and I’m stuck in a rut.
This post isn’t to get you to pity me. It isn’t about lashing out at people. It is a warning to everyone following God. In fact, I guess I can say I am grateful for what I have been through. God disciplines His children (Hebrews 12:5-13). I’m grateful because I know I’m a child of God.
Please learn the following five lessons before you make any important decisions. I am hard-headed. I learn through experiences and mistakes. I want you to learn from my mistakes too.
- Listen to other people who are connected to God. Never ignore godly counsel. I was counseled to stay in Michigan and finish my degree. I ignored it.
- Always fulfill what God originally asked of you before moving on. I forgot that God called me to go to Michigan. I was selfish and ignored God. I thought I knew what was best for me and my family.
- Allow God to lead you no matter what. Even if you don’t like what is happening or know what is going on. Just because things get difficult doesn’t mean you need to move on. I was hating school when I decided to leave. I should have pushed through it like everyone else.
- Take a lot of time seeking God’s will before making any major decisions in your life. We decided pretty quickly that we were going to abandon the seminary and move to California. There was a seminary there I transferred to. There was evangelizing to do there. We were going to work with our friends. It seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like God was approving of the move.
- Don’t forget who you are and know your value. I know God called me for a certain task. I let that escape me. God has a plan for me and for you. No matter how much or little you have accomplished in this life, you hold a lot of value in the eyes of God. Never allow others to diminish that.
Back to my first question, why Texas? We both have family within two hours of here. The economy is great here. I got a job after being here two days. But, the biggest thing that drove us here was the realization that I disobeyed God. The longer I was in California the more I felt disgusted. I had to get out as fast as possible.
Yes, we miss our friends. Yes, we are still hurt by everything that went down. But, now is our time to reconnect with God, stay away from church people, and heal.