Identity Crisis 102 or version 3.6

I seem to be in the midst of a small identity crisis. I definitely had one around 27 years old as I began to realize the person I was in my head really didn't match up with the person I actually was. I pictured myself as a young professional who spent evenings at the opera and on the town, vibrant and married-any-day to an equally young, hip, smart guy. Or sometimes in my head, I was an outdoorswoman, adept at the finer points of camping and hiking. Or a gourmet cook, just waiting for a crowd to cook for.
I realized that what I was actually DOING was working with youth...a lot...falling into bed late at night tired from dreaming up ways to connect these students to God...planning outreach and dramas and camps and occassionally having my own fun with them and with friends in the midst of it. And despite the fact that the person I had dreamed up along the way didn't actually match the person I was, I was ok with it. I felt that I was making a difference, or at least trying to. While I enjoy the outdoors quite a lot, it wasn't the centerpiece of my free time. And I still haven't magically morphed into a cook of any good repute. I cook when I have to because we need to eat. I am a pro at following directions, but there should be some warning on recipes that you can follow the process to a "T" and some invisible curveball can still sully your soup.
Here I am in my mid-30's feeling all weird again. Now in an academic environment, I feel as if I could keep pace with the academic-types who surround me, but I don't really have the background or academic "pedigree" to do so. I'm also swirling with ideas that I should write--as in more than self-centered blog posts--but am not sure exactly what I should be writing about or when to do that. Additionally, I miss those days of missions trips and outreach to folks in different circumstances than I was. I miss meeting real needs to actual needy people. It can be sometimes unfulfilling to meet needs of privileged, well-fed and well-heeled folks all the time. It has its place, as those folks can often fund outreach; but I miss getting in the thick of life.
Time and I have always had a love-hate relationship. I always intend to squeeze more out of it than it will actually allow. Even as a child, I juggled Brownies (the kind with badges, not chocolate), piano lessons, bike riding, gymnastics, cheerleading, band, and on and on. I have always been a multi-tasker. I'm trying diligently to streamline myself these days. To focus on what's really important--my awesome husband who far exceeds the one I dreamed up, my sweet son who seems to learn 14 new things a day, getting to work on time and getting my job done well, loving God, investing in others (why is this so hard for me!?), and figuring out where I'm supposed to be GOING. I don't want to just stop and hang out. But right now, I am trying to reconcile these lifelong dreams about where I thought I would be and where I actually AM. Do you just take one step at a time and hope you end up where you're "supposed" to? Or do you lasso God and ask Him to intervene and shake things up?
These are my questions today. I simply cannot imagine that I will have to keep wondering. I need these notions answered. I really need to be doing something bigger than myself and my dreams. Stay tuned.


Be my guest, Tracey Rouse

My friend Tracey Rouse recently moonlighted as a guest star blogger on my Pastor's amazing blog. Her post so aptly describes what I feel my own calling is, that I decided to have her be a guest star blogger on MY blog too! Welcome Tracey Rouse, everyone.

I have been Executive Pastor at Renovatus for all of six months and feel fairly unqualified at this point in my career to impart inspiring leadership lessons. However, in racking my brain over what to blog about, I realized that what I do have is a lifetime of experience in following. I also happen to think that concept of followership is an understated precursor to leading well, so maybe it is a good place to start!

My all-time favorite TV show is The West Wing. Fortunately for me, Pastor Jonathan knows the show well and appreciates (or at least tolerates) the unending references to it that I make on a regular basis. There is a scene from the show that sums up the roles of the Lead Pastor and the Executive Pastor at Renovatus well, I think, or at least it does for me! The Deputy Chief of Staff says to the President of the United States in a particularly poignant moment, “You know what the difference is between you and me? You wanna be the guy. I wanna be the guy the guy counts on.”

I’ve never aspired to be “The Guy.” It is of absolutely no interest to me in any context, really. I always want to be “the guy that the guy counts on.” (This is one of the reasons my current occupation is like living the dream!) I’m guessing growing up as the daughter of a Brigadier General might have played a part in some of this. Honor and respect were non-negotiable in my house. We placed a high premium on dependability and integrity. And naturally I developed a profound respect for uniting under one vision, for trusting in a chain of command, for following the leader. Orders are not optional and commands aren’t up for consideration. In the military, these principles literally protect lives and protect the mission. And while it is an imperfect analogy, it still translates into our context of church leadership. Do you take seriously the ministry you have been called to? Do you recognize the high stakes of what it means to actually be the church?

If so, I implore you: Strive to be the guy that the guy counts on, no matter what your ambition or calling. Follow your leaders. Trust in God’s lordship over your own life and over their lives, as well. They will not lead flawlessly, but extend the same grace given to you when you do not follow flawlessly.

Follow your leaders as they follow Christ (I Cor 11:1). Follow in such a way that inspires and empowers others to follow you.

Tracey Rouse is Executive Pastor of Renovatus: A Church for People Under Renovation.