the times they are a changin

So says the Bob Dylan song. So is my life.

11 weeks ago I found out my wife was pregnant. 10 days later I found out that there were two human beings forming inside her belly. Being a father changes one’s outlook on life. I do not know this from experience, I have just been told as much. What I can tell you is that being an expectant father changes you. But first, you go through stages:

Utter Fear (from the moment you see the two embryonic sacs [which is really week 4] until about week 8 )

My jaw literally dropped when I looked at the screen and saw two sacs. As my wife marveled in joy over the next three weeks, laughing and crying with friends, picking out 73 different nursery designs, spending 23 hours a day on babycenter.com and babysrus.com – I freaked out. I considered things like, how can I make more money, how are we going to feed two more people, how can I make more money, do we need to get rid of the dog, how can I make more money, can I emotionally handle two, how can I make more money, what kind of dad will I be and of course how can I make more money. Sometimes this stage comes back in spurts – like when writing a blog about it.

Utter Joy (from week 8 until week 10)

Something clicked around week ten and I started acting like a junior high girl with a new boyfriend. Trips to Babysrus to register – more registering online. Dreaming about names and what they will look like. Touching my wife’s newly and quickly protruding belly whenever I get a chance. Noticing babies everywhere I went and making faces at them. This was fun, it really was. I miss it.

Planning (from week 10 until present)

This stage coincided well with buying a new house, making business deals and determining future plans. This stage is hard because you don’t want to make the wrong decisions. The wrong decisions could have you in the wrong city and/or the wrong church and/or the wrong/job and/or the wrong house, etc. Understandably this has left me a tad bit freaked out considering the track record of decisions Vicky and I have made. Yet, at the same time, it has helped me look at scenarios with a bit more maturity. This has caused me to sell-out, I mean re-look at vocational ministry. SAY WHAT, ah now we get to the meat of the blog post.

When Vicky and I left Campus Crusade for Christ we decided we were God’s hope for Las Vegas and decided it would only be a matter of time before God blessed us just like this guy says in this book.

Um, yeah. Problem is that I am not that guy.

So Vicky and I oriented our life spiritually (church planters), emotionally (full-time work plus trying to be missional and entrepreneurial) and financially (rent a house with a big living room) as if we were 35 years old with over a decade of ministry experience. This left us in debt spiritually, emotionally and financially. To summarize, we oriented our lives as if we were 35 even though we were 25, and it almost ruined us.

The logical next step seemed to be to move into a local church, serve humbly and move into leadership in a short period of time. We balked at a few good communities and once again bit off more than we could chew by joining the leadership of plant/venue/thingy. Once again we had to pull out, this time we were wise enough to do so before any harm came to us. What is the real issue? What were we really hoping for? What did we think God had for us?

The answer:
A leadership position within a church that I had neither the wisdom, experience or maturity to deserve.

My justification for such: the church needs me. It needs guys like me who care about the gospel and who care about being authentic and all the like. Those people doing it now have it all wrong. The church needs me.

The church needs me. Right.

As Colin Cowherd says, “Say it out loud. See if it still sounds like a good idea.”

This has caused me to approach/view the local church with a different lens. Seeking ways to bless the church faithfully from the inside, rather than being the rogue outside agent taking it on by force. Perhaps, people get to be 35 and qualified emotionally, spiritually and financially by growing in those areas. Even the best engineers work their way up to management by showing themselves faithful. Why should I get a pass? Why should the church suffer by letting punk mid-twenties guys with entitlement issues go right into senior management? Why should they not be blessed by letting faithful pastors prove their faithfulness with little, so that the church has proven godly men leading it?

So what is my next step? Do I re-enter vocational ministry? I’m not sure. But my entire perspective of the church is changing. Hopefully I will be so focused on serving and blessing the church that I won’t even resemble that old punk. Yeah, well at least in my attitude. The times they are a changin, and thankfully, so am I.

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12 Responses

  1. Matt,
    Thank you for your honesty in this post. Being a father of 2 with graduation from seminary looming, school debt piling up and an uncertain future looking me dead in the face I resonated with much of what you said. Your personal journey of attitude change towards the church was so well written and I wish more people our age felt this way.
    I have met way too many people who have nothing positive to say about the church and think that they are the only hope for their city/church/community. I pray that more young twentysomething leaders are humbled, challenged and changed to view the church in the way that you describe in this post. I know that I have been challenged and encouraged by your words. May we be found faithful in service to the church God has called us to and to His Kingdom purposes.
    Brad

  2. “Why should I get a pass? Why should the church suffer by letting punk mid-twenties guys with entitlement issues go right into senior management? Why should they not be blessed by letting faithful pastor’s prove their faithfulness with little, so that the church has proven godly men leading it?”

    OMG, Matt…do you mean this? For real? Because if you do, my day is getting a whole lot brighter. You articulate the most serious problem I see in the church nowadays…not a theological problem, but rather the first time in history that the elders are expected to kowtow to the youth, chase them, emulate them, become them, submit to them. It is not a theological problem (in the traditional sense), it is a cultural problem. Everywhere I look, everyone is infected by it.

    Are you breaking free of it? Because if you do, than maybe others will too. And maybe I might like going to church again someday.

    Now if we can just fix your politics. Haha.

    Oh, and have you thought about how you can make more money? Cause you should really think about that when you have a second.

  3. Your heart and mind all typed out into a blog post! I love it. I’ve always appreciated your honesty, and bold challenges. You sharpen me, and spur me on. It’s been cool to watch the Lord grow you guys over the past two years since we first had breakfast at the Blueberry Hill on Decatur! Something you said in this post resonated with my soul, “Seeking ways to bless the church faithfully from the inside, rather than being the rouge outside agent taking it on by force.” This speaks loudly to me, and pushes me to continue to team up with the rest of the body of Christ in this city. I look forward to what is to come.

  4. good thoughts! there’s a lot to ponder there for all of us in ministry.
    BTW, you might want to change “rouge” (red) to “rogue”.

  5. Matt I’m glad you shared this, I’m really encouraged by how God is humbling you and teaching you to serve. I will be praying for ways for you guys to make more money and for a place to get plugged into.

    Glad you could make it to our BBQ the other day and blessed us with the tasty beverages…

  6. Thanks for the encouraging comments everyone. Perhaps it will cause me to get out of my blogging “slump.”

    Also, Adam, you using the texting term “OMG” has to be one of the greatest moments on my blog. I had to re-read the post a few times to catch the seriousness of it.

  7. I am a little late on the encouraging words, but I wanted to say that its posts like these that inspire me.

    I would say that Matt is going to make an amazing pastor one day, but I would be wrong. He already is. And it really is God that is making Matt into an amazing pastor. Thanks for giving us a front row seat into that formation process as all of us continue to grow and understand what it means to be Christians and part of the Kingdom.

  8. Well Matt, my first thought upon reading your post was literally “Oh my God”. But writing that out seemed poor form, and I figure I could bait you into mocking me, rather than leading you to blaspheme. So, bullseye, I guess.

    FWIW

  9. Obviously that was me yesterday.

  10. Matt – wow bro and congrats! Lots of great insights and wisdom all contained in one post. Congrats on the big news and don’t change your politics — by the way read my post today about Vegas. Smack me, attack me, but give you feelings on it.

  11. […] about making money… Posted on July 25, 2008 by matt If you have read this post from last week you will remember me talking about the pressing need I feel to make money for my […]

  12. Whoa. If I’d known this, I would have just given you that iPhone 🙂

    Seriously…
    1. I’ll be praying for you guys this morning and as I think of you

    2. I’d love to publish this in Next Wave- good thoughts here…

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