My Facebook status read “Dear ‘Church’: I hate you.”
I was done.
I worked at a church as a youth minister for nearly three years without any guidance from pastors or committees. With little to no parent volunteers. With very little support, prayer, accountability, or encouragement. But the group was growing in knowledge of the Word, in community, and in size.
Then, they fired me.
Three months before my wedding they fired me. Hard to tell the reason. Maybe because I wore blue jeans. Or maybe because someone said I wasn’t teaching the bible at all. Thanks for visiting the first twenty minutes of a three hour youth group time, fella.
Then, about a year later, a church was super interested in hiring me. During the interviewing process I was the guest speaker three times. I was starting to love those guys. I was being called in to have “mentor meetings” with the Senior pastor once a week. There were a lot of “WHEN you start working here” and “When they hire you“s being thrown around.
The pastor wanted to really take care of me and my family, so he regularly told me about the salary the church would be offering me. It was more than eight times what I was making at the time.
This went on for nearly four months. I was stuck chasing a carrot that was dangled in my face and continually out of reach. “When you start,” “When you are finally put in charge,” “You ARE our youth pastor,” “We will pay you a little over (insert large amount of money) a year,” “Oh, we know they are going to hire you.”
After I begged the pastor to let me know a time frame, I was told they wouldn’t be hiring me.
After four months. I was basically already the youth pastor.
I still hate that. Don’t you?
Before all of that, I prayed to be made poor if God had something to teach me in my own poverty. There is no way I would volunteer to do that on my own, especially not when I was about to be married.
Before all of that, I prayed that he would put me in the right places where I could grow and be a part of his story.
Before all of that, I prayed that God would rescue me from people and places that would crush my passion for him.
Before all of that, two friends who did not know each other approached me separately to say God had told them I would be going through a long period of patience; A time during which God would work on me and mold me.
I hate the abuse.
I prayed to be rescued and made poor.
God delivers where we are faithful.
So… “church,” I guess I don’t hate you. You may have meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. If you came to me for surplus grain I may mess with you a little. You know, put a silver cup in your bag and have you arrested for it. But then I would take care of you with all my energy. Something bigger than me causes me to love you.
*Note added: I mean this to be glorifying to God. He totally answered my prayers. And even before that, he worked on my heart in such a way that I could understand the need to pray to become poor. I left it to God.
I can only expect perfection from God, from Jesus. We are broken people in a broken world.
I used to hate it. Now I see the Glory in it.