10 Years and Counting
10 years ago I stood up on this stage to preach for the first time as the interim pastor at The Gathering.
At the time I was not an ordained minister, I had preached only a few times in English (it may or may not be obvious for some, but English is my second language, literally learned to speak it in my 20’s, I only learned to read and write basic English as a kid), and according to what I was told, I would never be able to Pastor this church.
I remember doing a minimal effort each week in terms of trying to entice or win people’s favor in order to stay. Believe it or not, I am an introvert. God has a sense of humor.
Norma was teaching at MISD and I had recently sold my small business. I didn’t make any substantial money on it, it was a trailer and car wash equipment.
Back in 2004 I purchased that truck and trailer and started washing cars, I did that for 7 years. My idea? To have a flexible schedule and be able to do ministry; music ministry. I just wanted to stay behind the scenes, make music, and help advance the church’s mission. I had no interest in becoming a pastor. I was an associate pastor from 2009 until 2012.
In 2012, I preached through September, October, and November. Then in December, the church board asked if I’d be interested in becoming the Pastor.
I officially became the lead pastor in January of 2013. Funny fact, I was never officially installed as a Pastor (that is when district leaders come to the church and present and pray over the new pastor before the congregation). That year Norma left her career and came to volunteer at the church.
Together we started new ministries, structured different areas of ministry within the church, and left the results up to God. We are still amazed at what God has done. You see, we keep a lot to ourselves. But God sees.
Over the years a lot of things have changed.
And God has remained faithful.
It’s easy to forget how good God has been.
As I think of all the people we have seen come through our doors and ministry, I can’t help it but realize that leadership is painful.
Finding the balance to keep my heart focused has not been easy.
Along the way we have been hurt, talked about, criticized, yelled at, betrayed, misunderstood, rejected, abandoned. And believe it or not, it repeats each year.
One thing is very clear to me.
Jesus is the one building the Church.
Because despite our shortcomings, the church keeps advancing.
I told the Lord my next ten years I would take bigger risks than ever before.
Ten years ago I waited, right now God is telling me to move.
I will move at the pace he tells me to move. He hasn’t failed me yet, and He won’t fail me now.
There is a fire in me that I can’t explain.
I’m writing this in my journal and also here so that I won’t forget.
Ten years from now I’ll come back and see what God has done.
One thing is for sure, staying planted produces fruit.
So stay planted, trust God, and be faithful in the little things. It works!