Over the next three days, I will be sharing three traits that I have discovered to be invaluable in my work as a pastor. They are not traits that I had when I began working at a church and I discovered my need for them the hard way. Whether you’re a pastor or not, I believe these three will help you invaluably.
I normally don’t mind being a couple minutes late. I like to arrive fashionably late to parties I’m not throwing, which drives my wife nuts. But when it comes to my job and services at church, I like to be on time. Despite my best intentions, I walked into the Worship Center building at my church last Sunday after the service had already started. I had ignored multiple alerts on my phone as I did my best to make my way across campus for my church’s morning service. Finally, as I was about to walk in the door to the auditorium, I pulled out my phone to check out these messages. The most recent message had just come in from the staff member who directs the team of volunteers who capture our service on video. The text read “We need you upstairs ASAP. We needs your help.” I ran upstairs as fast as I could and headed towards the baptistry.
When I arrived, my pastor introduced me to the two large men we were baptizing and then let me know we were baptizing two women as well. I knew my pastor had been struggling with some tendonitis in his wrist. It had flared up again and I needed to be in the water with him to help baptize. With one song to go before we were up, the great volunteers who assist with baptism helped me get robed and we headed into the water. The first three were a breeze. The fourth gentleman shared his testimony with authenticity and passion but on the way back up, I had to grab him by the robe to help him get back up. (For this, one friend later texted me and let me know my new nickname was “Baptism Bouncer”).
It definitely was not the morning I anticipated, but it was a great experience. I got my squats and curls in for the day!
I learned two things from this experience. One, it really can be that important to check my text messages at church. Two, flexibility is so underrated! I preached a message at Crash two weeks ago centered around this idea – accepting God’s call means surrendering control of my plan and submitting to God’s plan. I am a recovering control freak (sometimes not recovering so well).
Over the last six years, I have recognized my need to release my white-knuckle grip on my plans and expectations and develop a greater flexibility to roll with the punches of what comes my way. To be ready to jump into an opportunity when it presents itself. To bounce back and come up with a new idea when my initial plan does not pan out as anticipated. To jump into a white robe and baptize at a moment’s notice.
Today, you will experience your best intentions encountering real life. You will see your plan morph as things get added to your day that were not in your plan. You will see God present you with opportunities that won’t be around tomorrow.
I encourage you to surrender control and embrace flexibility as you move through today and this season in your life. Write a plan, make a list, establish priorities. Then get ready for whatever comes your way and with great flexibility, adjust and embrace the unexpected opportunities. After all, that’s typically where the most fun and exciting things happen!