As I sit in Panera Bread, preparing for a meeting for the church we attends mobile web site, and app development. Reading in Romans, planning to work on my book that has unfortunately sat dormant way too long something happened.
I really feel that God is moving in a direction in our life that is different from anything I ever expected. I never was one that wanted to or that looked at student ministry as a stepping stone, I still don’t, I have however begun to realize that God sometimes evolves our calling. He allows us to grow, he breaks us apart, he refines us, he takes us through things to get us to the point where we are able to be that LEGO Christian that I have talked about in past posts. I have been reading and praying all these years, and been asking God to take away the calling he put on my life. He didn’t do that, really won’t do that, however I believe he has been evolving my calling, or at the very least my understanding of who I am and what I am to be doing.
I never really thought of myself as anything but a youth or young adult pastor. I have been involved in ministry with every age group from the time I started the whole pastoral journey 18 years ago as a Junior in college working with Joe Hoggard in Eloise Fl. I have had the privilege of ministering to many people, performing weddings, baptisms, and the sad task of being involved in funerals as well. I had the opportunity to be involved on a district level in our denominations youth ministry, I have seen many things in 18 years, I have seen success, I have seen failure. I say all of these things because I feel God is taking us in a direction that is different from anything that has ever happened before. I am for the first time actually considering the possibility of leading a church, and there are a few churches that are looking at me in this capacity. I am not ruling out other options, I have churches that are considering me for student ministries, and for family or missions pastor positions, I just have this sense of anticipation that something is coming and that it’s going to be the place that we are supposed to be for a long time, not just because that is what we want but because it’s what He wants for us.
So what does this all mean and why the title Beautiful Distractions? As a youth guy I have always been go go go. Those times that I had the opportunity to work with the more seasoned members of a congregation were fine but I always felt that they were somewhat of a distraction. Even when I recognized the importance of the experience that they could bring into the youth in the congregation, I did what I have always done and looked at them as having something to give to the youth or the young adults, not one of the pastors. Amazing how thick I can be. I would never have chosen to have my plan interrupted. I want to get the things on my list done that’s how I work. So todays list includes this post, working on my book, and a website meeting at 1:00. I sat down with my coffee, read where I am in Romans, and was sitting down to offer some pithy observations on Romans 12 and 13 to the five people who read my blog, when it happened. As I logged into my laptop an older guy came and sat down at the little table across from me.
Now let’s be clear. I sit at the smallest table possible when I come to Panera for a couple of reasons, I bring my laptop and my tablet, and I pop on my head phones for a reason. This is my time away from distraction. With J’s mom here I can take a little bit more than I usually get to take. It’s a chance for quiet away from the house. I picked my table next to the fake fireplace because I like the ambiance that it gives. I do not sit at one of the long table areas, you know the ones I mean, the ones that welcome someone to sit at the next table over, but seem to say hey I’m willing to converse. Anyway this older gentleman sits down and wants to know if I like Windows 8 what my thoughts are on computers in general and begins to explain that he helps people at the senior citizens home learn computers, that he has an engineering degree, that they have tons of technology at home. He told me about the original punch cards they used before the second set of punch cards that everyone is familiar with back in the 60’s. This gentleman proceeded to invade my little bubble of quiet and reflection, and that was okay.
See before I would have continued to do what I was doing even while feigning listening. I would have nodded and smiled while opening the programs I needed to open, I would have covertly checked email, or my Facebook status, I would have gotten out my ear buds and plugged them into the computer, I would have made it clear through my pretended interest that the guy was taking up my precious time. That what he had to say was nice, but that what I was doing was much more important, and in doing so I would have missed an opportunity to give this gentleman what he needed, an ear to hear. See I had a plan this morning, and an agenda of what I wanted to do. I am working on my book again, and making sure to blog thoughts from my study time often , because I believe that God is preparing us for a church and I want to get that part of things tightened up. The guy that came and sat down is a retired veteran that has time on his hands and needed someone to talk to. I listened and when he asked what I was I said I’m a pastor. When he asked what church I told him I wasn’t sure yet. I would love to say that this opened this huge discussion about Jesus and how to be a Christ Follower. I would love to tell you that he said a prayer right here in Panera, but that’s not the case. What he did say was thanks, and that maybe “he and the wife” would head back to church this week, because if pastors were willing to listen in Panera now well they may not be so bad.
That’s what was so beautiful about the distraction today. I have a clearer picture of this verse:
1 Corinthians 3:7-8 (NLT)
7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.
8 The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work.
I got to plant a seed today just by listening to a person who was going to go about his day full of nothing, I can hope and pray that at some point in the week someone else will water that seed that contains the beginnings of a map to a walk with Christ, who knows perhaps when he and the wife head to church on Sunday there will be something there that can be harvested.