Ten years ago, I officially fell in love with my first local church. I sat in one of the pastors offices and I told him: “I’m all in. I’ll do whatever this church wants.” I was young(er) and cocky(ier) and sure about who I was. I told him my gifts, where I wanted to serve, but explained I would do whatever our body needed.
In life, there are a few moments when you are sure of what God wants you to do. That was one of them for me.
It didn’t work out.
The church wasn’t in the financial position to take me on, so I took a job at a software company instead. Sort of different, but I fell in love with it. I loved the people and the lightness of it compared to my previous work.
Fast forward two years: I was loving my software job when another pastor contacted me and asked me to interview for a position on our church staff.
Dream come true, right? Except it was a little too late. I no longer had any interest in working for the church. I loved working with people who saw the world differently from me. But, despite all my doubts, through a crazy series of events, in 2007 I accepted a position with The Austin Stone Community Church.
What followed was a hard season followed by harder seasons. At first it was the simple lessons found in facing failure, then the pain of learning that the church is made up of sinful saints and that not a single pastor has the power to save, and then the spiritual devastation of discovering how deep my own sin really runs. All that was followed up by the pain of losing a parent, then a partner in ministry and punctuated by my own health coming off the rails a little.
I knew it was time to transition out of my role on staff long before I was brave enough to leave. I kept trying to stay, fighting against the pressure of the spirit and the pull of the ministry I knew was ahead.
But I finally yielded. Finally gave up, and in December of 2014 I walked out the doors with no concrete idea of what I was moving towards.
In some ways I still don’t know.
I know I’m moving towards you. I’m moving towards whatever will convince you that He really is as good as He says He is. Moving towards whatever ministry I can offer you that won’t ask you to pick between your head and your heart: the knowledge of God and the glorious emotional experience of Him.
But practically? What resource comes first? What the shape of this new ministry is? Those are questions yet to be answered.
What I do know is that whatever ministry He has me dreaming about, it is not going to be built in a coffee shop behind a computer. I know that now. Because in walking towards whatever is next, I found myself walking through our Counseling Center.
I didn’t leave staff with The Austin Stone to move upstairs and work for The Austin Stone Counseling Center. But the vision I seek, the ministry I dream about building, it is becoming more and more clear as I sit behind closed doors and listen to the stories and struggles of the women who are desperate to have their heads and hearts align so their hands might be spent on the glory of our God.
It’s hard to describe how it feels to be invited behind the small talk and the sunday school answers I’m used to hearing in the foyer on a Sunday and suddenly get the raw feed from women on what they’re really experiencing of God. And the more of you I know, the more of your struggles I see, the more I feel the Spirit making sense of the details of the vision God has given me for my life.
I was walking out of the office a few weeks ago when a woman who interned for me a few years back stopped me and pointed out how ironic it was that I work at the Counseling Center. “Why” I asked, genuinely confused. “Didn’t you originally think you were supposed to work in counseling?”
And my mind went back to ten years ago, to Fabs filled with confidence of calling, (a calling that I would later dismiss as foolish and off base): a hunger to work in pastoral counseling at The Austin Stone Community Church.
[You can learn more about my role at the Counseling Center here]