I am originally from Memphis, TN but now have my home in Colorado. How did I get there? I met my wife. She has always had an adventurous heart. And it bleed off on me.
We briefly met in high school but did not start dating until second year of college (1994). We were married in 1997. She has been with me through the majority of my ministry career. There is not a person that knows me better than my wife. She knows the good, the bad and the ugly. She has been there in triumphs, frustration and hurt.
My life in ministry started in 1994. I took a job as a summer youth intern in Illinois. This job did not pay well so one of the students in the youth ministry told me that his dad could hire me in my free time. So, I took a job on a pig farm. My best moment on the pig farm was getting chased by a wild boar and surviving. I think I might have learned more on that pig farm that I did at the church. But my life in ministry was well on the way.
Because it was a summer internship, when I returned and worked other jobs until I was called by a church plant to join as the youth director. This was my first real paying job. This job was more than a job. The pastor began who is still today my greatest mentor and friend. To this day when I come to a problem my default is “how would Jim approach this.” He coached me through so many twists and turns.
One of those turns was going to seminary for my formal pastoral training. Seminary was not easy. School has never been easy. I hate tests. But despite this reality, I got through seminary and then took a job as an assistant pastor at a church plant in Colorado. About 4 years into my time there the lead pastor was called away. Devastating to everyone!
Now, this is where the rubber meets the road for me as a leader. I had many opportunities leading aspects of organizations and churches but now the lead pastor was gone. I was not a shoe in to be the next pastor and to be honest I did not really want the job. (I did not think I had the gifts or talents for being a senior pastor.) Well, after a number of months of being an interim pastor while the church searched for a new pastor… the church called me to be the pastor.
Being in leadership roles was one thing. Being THE head dog was another. I could lead as an assistant by always deferring to the lead pastor. But when I was called to be THE pastor of this congregation, the buck now stopped with me.
Everything about that “buck” stopped with me. Decisions, vision, implementation. It all stopped with me. A bad sermon… oh, yes that stopped with me as well. Criticism along with crucial decisions became a prison for my heart! I teetered between fear and pride. Fear that I had to try to “fake it until I made it” and pride that manifested itself in the form of fear and defensiveness.
I was a mess. Angry. Frustrated. Short. I was short with my wife. My kids. And I was in a prison of hurt. My creative side struggled. I was just hiding and hurting emotionally. I went to my vises. I was in a prison. That was until I began to soul search. Who am I? What is my passion? Where do I thrive most? What are my gifts and abilities? I began to search. I took tests. Myers-Briggs, strengthen finders. You name it. I read books on purpose and goals.
This is when I began to grapple with who I was and how I function best. I pulled back and started getting honest with my life. I began to remember that I love people. I love to see them develop. I loved to serve. I loved my role as pastor. I joy in helping others succeed in knowing and experiencing God’s grace.
My story of leadership was seeing and understanding my heart as a leader.
The goal of this blog? To see leaders, of all walks of life, Freed to Lead!