About 3 years ago, the announcement was made that I was the new Columbia campus pastor. I cannot believe it’s been 3 years, already. I cannot begin to condense and distill all that I’ve learned in this 3 year period. It has been harder and better than I ever could have imagined.
I could not have possibly conceived of all that I had to learn and all the ways I would need to stretch to walk in this new season. My wife and I have gotten to pastor and learn from some of the most incredible people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. This season has meant so much to my family and I. We left the comfort and support of a great church family in Charleston to walk into the unknown and to open the next chapter of the adventure that God had in store for us.
Because we’re still learning and growing, it’s hard for me to look back and see what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown, but I do want to share a couple of key lessons.
- Leadership is about trusting God
At the end of the day, I’ve learned that in and of myself, I don’t have a lot for people. In the past 3 years, I’ve done a ton of counseling with people in all different walks of life. I’ve sat with couples in some of their darkest moments and given comfort to people in the places of their deepest pain. I’ve learned that I’m not smart enough to take care of the issues and problems of those around me. I used to entertain delusions that I could save people or fix them or both, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Leading and pastoring people means praying a lot and allowing God to use you to make a difference in their lives. I’m a vessel and a conduit, but I certainly don’t have anywhere close to all the answers. To quote a poet I listen to, I’m a crooked stick that God sometimes uses to draw straight lines.
2. Following God means embracing uncertainty and risk
On paper, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for Abbi and I to leave the familiarity and comfort of our season in Charleston. We were around great people…I was working in vocational ministry….we had a house, 2 kids and a dog….life was going pretty good! Columbia wasn’t a part of some master plan that Abbi and I concocted to realize some grander goal or aspiration. On the contrary, the opportunity opened up…it seemed like it was from God….and we went for it. We didn’t know the people and we didn’t know what this season would bring. All we felt certain of is that God had more for us and that “more” meant moving to Columbia, SC. God has continued to affirm to us, in many different ways, that we made the right decision.
3. New seasons of leadership mean new seasons of growth
I knew that I was moving up in my position of leadership, but I didn’t realize the internal growth that would need to accompany my new ministry role. I knew that I’d be leading at a higher level. I knew that leading a staff would have it’s own new set of challenges. I knew that being the leader of a campus would require me to grow in areas that I hadn’t grown in before, but I definitely underestimated the character development I was in for. I have encountered situation after situation that has clearly required me to become a better man, a better pastor and a better leader. I don’t know who I’ll be if and when God calls us to a new season, but I know I’ll be much better off than when I first came to Columbia.
I guess the biggest thing I want to say is, “Thank you.” First, thank you to God who continues to lead and guide me and often times, in spite of me. Thank you to my wife who continues to support me and follow me even though I have a tendency to say, “Ready, fire, aim!” Thank you to my leadership at Seacoast Church. Thank you for continuing to believe in me and support me even at times when I doubt myself and the plans God has for me. Thank you to all our friends and family in Charleston. Your continued support for Abbi, myself and the kids has made this season so much easier and smoother than it ever would have been without you. Last, but certainly not least, thank you to the Columbia campus! Thank you to all of our elders, our friends, our phenomenal staff and great volunteers. You are a special group of people and you have done nothing but embrace Abbi and I, which has meant more to me than I could ever say.
I just turned 34 years old and I have no idea what God has for my future. I’m not kidding. I tend to be a control freak and it continues to frustrate me that God is not in the habit of tipping his hand when it comes to the future. That being said, if this season in Columbia is any indication, I can only imagine that the future will be jam-packed with blessing, opportunity and trials that will continue to stretch us and grow us for God’s glory, our good and the benefit of others.