Have you ever wondered what God’s will for your life is? Now before you go lying and say no, think about it for a second. No matter how settled in you may be, no doubt you wonder from time to time what that “sweet spot” would be. I think, after my first 10 years of ministry, that I’m finally settling into my role in life, both as a pastor and as a husband/father. I work at a great church with great people doing what I love to do, and have a beautiful wife, 2 great boys, and I love them more than anything. We have a nice, modest home with a 2-car garage, a fenced-in backyard with a dog in it, and 2 cars. Settled in. Haven’t always been that way. Spent alot of time wondering what that “thing” was that I was supposed to do. What was my ideal job? What was I going to be happiest at? This post is for those who’ve struggled with that.
A couple of years ago, I looked at a site on the internet that contains church staff postings. I used to check there from time to time to see if the “perfect church” had placed an ad looking for exactly what I have to offer (if anyone knows what that is, let me know!). Anyway there is a section where people like you and I can post our resumes for churches to look at, and hopefully call us and offer us $400,000 per year to work 10 hours a week doing it, while giving us seminary tuition reimbursement. To make a long story short, I glanced through these, and it features the name and the position(s) this person is shooting for. If it interests you, you click on the name and a resume is displayed. What I saw blew my mind! Instead of a bunch of names with one title by each one (meaning each person knew exactly what they wanted to do), I saw names with 2, 3, or 4 different positions they were open to doing. Now wouldn’t someone who was listening to God know exactly what God wanted them to do? Here’s just a sample (as always, names have been changed to protect the identity of the person who doesn’t know what they want to be doing anyway)…
Note: those first 2 clearly define what they are looking to be… Senior Pastor. It gets scary from here on down!
Small Groups Pastor, Single Adult Pastor, Associate Pastor, Divorce Recovery, Single Parents, Assimilation, WILL RELOCATE! Desparate (okay that last word was my interjection)
Sr. Pastor or Associate Pastor
Secretarial/Office or Non-Ministry or Children’s Pastor
Associate Pastor/College/Gen-X Pastor/Single Adult
Worship & Music Pastor
Associate Pastor or Combo Positions or Senior Pastor
Senior Pastor or Teaching Pastor
Associate Pastor or Senior Pastor or Worship & Music Pastor
Discipleship/Equipping Pastor or Senior Pastor
Okay, okay you say. What’s the point? The point is, out of 12 names, 8 list their job interests in more than one category! Talk about a group of people that for whatever reason aren’t exactly sure what God wants them to do… isn’t it possible that God could show us exactly where He wants us and what He wants us to be doing? I mean, a guy who’s equally cool with being an Associate Pastor, Senior Pastor, or Worship & Music Pastor? Each of those has a completely different dynamic and it would be tough for others who work with him. Think about it… if he was the Senior Pastor who feels he’s equally capable of being the worship guy, can you imagine how the worship guy must feel in that situation?
The point of this rather long post is twofold: 1 is for me to think out loud and thank God that I am doing what I’m doing and finally feeling locked in and, 2, is to explore our society and how everyone seems to be good at 50 things and how do we decide which thing we should really really go for…
I have a lot of experience in this area. I recently went through this struggle myself. You see, I too have a gifting in a bunch of different areas, enough to be dangerous! So I had to really get before God and ask Him what was most important for me, what area is the strongest for this season of my life. And I finally landed on something that was different in some ways than anything I had ever done; small groups. I just boiled everything I do down to the fact that I love working with people and that despite all of the things I had done in the past, the season I was in and my heart condition was in led me to want to shepherd people and help them to connect with other people to go through life with.
Recently I found out a startling error in my learning growing up. I had been using this phrase that I’m sure every single one of you had been using, and it’s this: “I’m a jack of all trades, master of none.” Anyone heard or used that phrase? Now we use it to imply that we’re a little good in a bunch of all areas, not an expert in any one thing. Sound like a nice set of talents to have? Well trust me, as someone who has went through life experiencing this and believing this was me, it’s a lonely frustrating experience! So I found out that I (and most other people) have been misquoting this phrase and mis-applying it to our lives! The person that actual coined that phrase was none other than Mr. Benjamin Franklin. Now we all know of him and if your history professor did you right you’ll remember that Ben Franklin had an enormous amount of talents. But he didn’t say what we think he said. What he actually said was this: “be a jack of all trades, and a master of one….” Whoa! Big difference! So it changes the whole context to be okay at a bunch of things to being decent at several things and excel in one area. This caused me to do some major soul searching and start looking for that thing that I know God wants for me.
Which leads me to the point… to many of us who feel called to be a “staffer” can do too many things, but we haven’t put the time and energy to excel in just one area of ministry. I could lead worship, teach, be a media pastor, etc. But in refining my vision, I realized that I need to sink my energy into one main thing, and for me that’s community development (small groups/discipleship and assimilation ministry). Why is it that we are all of these things?
Confused? Let me give you another illustration. When I was in 6th grade, I began playing in band. Most people my age had been in band one more year than me. I played the baritone for a few months and picked it up really fast. Soon, my older cousin gave me a trumpet, and before you knew it, I was 1st chair (a really big deal to me at the time!) I had beat out an entire group of people who had been playing a year longer than me. What I found was, I had a natural inclination for music, and because of that, I hopped around on instruments and learned several. Anyone that knows me would probably be able to say that Larry Boatright is a pretty darn good guitar player, or trumpet player, or tuba player, etc. The point? I became pretty good at several different instruments, but I never did take the time to sit down and stay with one until I had mastered it. I developed an attitude of “good enough” instead of an attitude of excellence, and it has cost me to this day. I had the natural aptitude that if I had put the “elbow grease” behind it that I could have no doubt in my mind at least been an extraordinary guitarist or trumpetist or whatever, but because it came so natural to me I never pursued it and I am now a “pretty-good” player, but definitely not excellent. See the difference? A lot of us are naturally gifted in ministry things, and we kind of hop around from position to position without really taking the time to invest in one and excel in it. Think about how much more powerful you would be for the Kingdom of God if you would focus your abilities and energy into one area, being passionate about it and learning so much about it that it oozes out of you. Ever been to a conference and the guy doing the presentation just flows easily about what he’s discussing and thought “I could do that too”? Be careful! Chances are, that guy lives and breathes that area so much that as a result of his study and attention it just oozes out of him! If he had been torn in 5 ways and dreamed of all of these different things without settling on one area and seeking to master it, chances are he’d not be staying at a job very long, wouldn’t be able to with conviction lead an entire group to follow him in his vision, etc.
Think about it!
I challenge you men and women in the ministry: get on your knees and ask God which area you should focus in. Should you know a bit about each area? Sure. But settle on one and get after it.. Study it, breathe it, live it. Read all you can, be a human and intellectual sponge. Most importantly, spend time with the One who has the power to help you become a jack of all trades, but a master of one!