Signposts Along the Way: My EH Story
(Disclaimer: The names have been kept the same to blame the innocent…and if you recall the story differently, that’s fine but this is my reflection.I have spent the day on my 1yr reflecting on the impact of F3 in my life, and thank you all for obliging my longwinded reflection.)
This time last year, I found myself the youngest but longest tenured pastor at a large church in town. My new senior pastor had requested that we submit goals for 2013, and I was pondering among other things how to reenergize a Mens Breakfast I had #clipboarded for the past 6 years. My daughter was now 6 and the triplet boys had just turned 3, so I was also beginning to emerge from the fog of #infantdom. Plus, I had just completed the Savannah Marathon. I was staring into the future…
And began to wonder to myself, “is this it? is this why am I here?” My life was becoming stable, secure, and comfortable, but I was not. The Sadclownism disease was creeping into my life. Even as a pastor, my job had me becoming a #checksigner (spiritually as well as literally as an administrative pastor). I was passively sitting, letting things happen to me rather than making things happen.
I was longing for something more, when I got a LinkedIn message and call from DoubleKnot saying, “can we meet this week?”
Now a message like that makes my pastoral-spidey-senses tingle, and I wondered what was going on–was there some huge issue in his life? For an hour we sat in my office and had a very surface level conversation. Each time I was waiting for the shoe to drop. By the end of the hour though, we’d just chatted when DK said,
“Oh, by the way, I am part of a men’s group that works out early in the morning at Freedom Park and then I lead a Biblestudy afterwards. Would love for you to join us one week; Its called ‘Fitness, Fellowship and Faith.'”
I jumped at the opportunity, “Fitness, Fellowship, Faith? Those are my three favorite things. I will be there tomorrow.”
“Great, and do not worry, I won’t tell anyone you are a pastor.”
My Sadclown heart leapt at that promise, finally I could just be out in the gloom without that mantel wearing me down.
That night I stayed up until 1:15am nervous and scouring the website, reading the lingo, watching the video, peeling back these 3Fs, wondering what I had just committed myself to. By 5:05 I was out in the gloom, alone…then the cars started to pull into the lot.
Just before we took off, this blackminivan pumping music spun through the lot, and out popped a man with a shovelflag. But before I could wonder to myself “who is this?” the Q led us into the gloom.
All I remember of that first workout was huffing through the MountainClimbers during the warmup thinking that we have 42 minutes to go. By the time we were on the lurker, I was in a #pitypainbox. My “I just ran a marathon, I should be able to beat these guys” pride crumbled because that minivan-driving guy chugged by me in his camo-pants hooting and hollering up the course. “who is this guy?” I muttered.
At the COT, my cover was blown as Smokey hollared out “he’s my pastor.” However, it was the news that I had triplets that the minivan-driving-camo-pants-wearing-hooting man coined me AGONY. As folks hung around the parking lot, and bumping into Phoenix and Montieur, I immediately felt welcomed into this fellowship.
Then at the 3rdF gathering, I sat amazed as I saw ordinary men opening up the Bible to dig into the reality of life: job uncertainty, frayed marriages, longing for more. I watched guys who could jump from John to Lamentations and quote Deuteronomy 25:11-12 (look it up-it will keep you from fighting in front of your wife). I also saw guys who’d never really wrestled with Faith questions lean to listen. And of course, there was that mminivan-driving, camo-wearing, hooting-hollering, man making obscure #Battledome and #BluesBrother references to tie it all together.
For 6 years, I had been holed up in an office, wondering how I could lure more men to our campus, but missing the fact that God’s been on the move out here at the Caribou on East (in the atrium at Roosters, at Starbucks, in living rooms in Foxcroft, and in the parkinglot of CRM).
I was hooked.
A month goes by, and I discovered that minivan-driving, camo-wearing, hooting-hollering, watching-random-movies man was DREDD. It was after one of the Smokey gatherings, everyone else had headed out the door, I said to myself if DREDD doubles back I will lob this shot across his bow. Munching his bagel and probably planning on heading home, I tossed him, “Dredd, I am pastor in town, if you all ever need any resources for the 3rdF groups just let me know.”
PHOOOOM–immediately he plopped down and over the next hour and a half we chatted…he unveiled the F3 philosophy, the mission, the Starfish/Spider model (which I had read in a pastors group a year earlier). After subsequent conversations, I found myself Qing the 3rdF–for which I am deeply humbled and grateful.
That Wednesday in the gloom has been the catalyst to a life changing impact in my life. I began to identify my idols of security and comfort, and saw how Sadclownism was gnawing away at my job, marriage and parenting. So in this year, I left the security of an Administrative Pastor job at a large church in a large denomination, in order to get out on the field and seek to plant a new community; I recommitted to being a husband first, father second, and repeating the #IamThird motto; and long for the morning that I can bring out my 2.1; 2.2; 2.3s to the gloom.
I am thankful to the PAX of F3 for the way you have inspired, humbled, pushed, and encouraged me this past year. F3 has changed my life, my marriage, my family, and I pray that over time, I could give back that impact to others and our broader community.
A few months later, DK and I had forged a good enough friendship that I could ask him, “So why did you come in my office that day? That was a little weird.”
He then shared, “My M. had seen you teach the youth and talk about your love for your duct-taped Bible last spring, and she began praying that we would get to know each other better.”
Chilled, I uttered “well I don’t know what you’ve gotten out this bond, but tell her thank you because her prayer helped to change my life.”
And in DK’s wisdom, as I said thanks again yesterday, he stated…”We were just God’s signposts.”
Now that’s got me thinking: How can I become a #Signpost?