The Unwritten Rule of Ministry Advancement

The Unwritten Rule of Ministry Advancement

A few days ago, as we were reflecting on previous church ministry experiences, I looked at Kayla and immediately started laughing.

“Why was I ever a youth pastor. Teenagers and I don't mesh well – then or now!”

As a young 20-something I had the desire to serve the local church, and I was confident that it was God’s plan for my life. In a conversation with our former lead pastor, I told him I would “do anything” because I just wanted to serve.

Shortly after a youth pastor position opened at the church -- so naturally I was a good fit. I was eager to serve, I was young, and if I took it ... I could be paid.

Done, done and done.

What transpired over the next couple of years was a result of a person serving out of need and not passion.

This car ride of reflection got me thinking of the unwritten stages of ministry advancement. In the church world, we’ve created a path of advancement, "or rule," without even knowing it.

Why More Christians Don't Care

Why More Christians Don't Care

We’ve all heard it. I can guarantee we’ve all actually said it. It’s a statement overflowing from exhaustion, irritation, and finality. After dealing with a perpetually returning situation or discussion, it’s the moment we throw our hands in the air and ultimately decide…

“I just don’t care anymore.”

My poor mother lived in this state of being with my sassy, growing self (sorry, Mom). I gave her fits over everything. I didn’t want to wear makeup. I didn’t want to curl my hair. I didn’t want to wear pantyhose with my dresses. And push a mom just enough? Yeah… they just don’t care anymore. You’re alive, breathing, and fed, so the pantyhose just do not matter that much in comparison.

Only as life proceeds to move forward, not all conflicts or conversations remain as simple as an objection to curled hair and lipstick.

People misuse one another. We become subject to over extending ourselves to help someone who always seems to have the same downfalls. We have moments of disagreement with others based on really anything – faith, politics, moral standards, and major issues of today in the news.

The Weight of Leading Only Your Lead Pastor Can Understand

The Weight of Leading Only Your Lead Pastor Can Understand

You ever have that feeling where your stomach is in a knot?

For some of us it’s an all too real feeling. For me, it happens on specific occasions. After becoming an LSU fan, I felt it in the fourth quarter of every football game with Les Miles on the sidelines.

I feel it in every close New England Patriots game, which only intensifies in January. In some cases, I can’t even eat before or during games. I feel it every time I communicate in a large setting. I even feel it sometimes when I call people back on the phone (no judging).

Early last month the feeling arrived but this time in a different scenario than normal. Our lead pastors took their vacation – and for the first time – they were out for three consecutive weeks.

They’ve left in the past, but it was never this long. The moment they left – the feeling came. It was the first time we ever felt the weight and pressure of a lead pastor.

It made me think about Moses and Joshua and the ‘knot in the stomach feeling’ they must’ve felt. Moses literally felt the weight of leading – he saw it in the thousands of eyes constantly watching him. He felt it with the numerous complaints he handled.

The weight was so strong; Moses in frustration told God: “The load is far too heavy! If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!” (Numbers 11:14)

Joshua, who was Moses’ predecessor, grew up watching how people treated Moses. He grew up seeing Moses fail to deliver on the promise and how that was received by the people.

In Joshua 1, God spoke the words “be strong and courageous” three different times to Joshua. The tribes and leaders looked at Joshua moments later and – you guessed it – told Joshua to be “strong and courageous.”

You know what that tells me? Joshua was most likely worried about the task at hand. I’m sure at this point he had the weight and pressure of being the head leader for the first-time. He needed God and others to affirm him and speak over him that he would be strong and courageous.

The weight and pressure of leading is very real.

You wouldn’t typically read a blog where a lead pastor wrote about this topic because it’s almost self-serving – it’s like saying, “hey, come look at all the pressure on my shoulders.”

But, we can talk about it from the other side with some real-time experience that will help all staff members and church attendees gain a fresh perspective. Here’s three experiences we encountered when our leads pastors were gone.

A Letter For The Inspired

A Letter For The Inspired

We are certainly not in lack of ways to be inspired in this world.

From nature and the universe, to role models, from history, to grand movements of people -- anyone can find at least one thing by which to be inspired toward greater things. Artists, thinkers, builders, visionaries: their lives and legacies all cry out for us to live for something more.

And when we infer that message, we’re happily met with a strong yet warm feeling inside that agrees and echoes the same. Inspiration can be found everywhere yet is uniquely crafted toward the individual that needs it. It’s something so rare, yet so available.

With such an accessible resource at our disposal, we are encouraged endlessly through cultural sways and mantra creators to be inspired daily. And we should be inspired daily. What’s the point of the daily grind if we do not find some joy, passion and excitement in what we do during this short life?

For many of us, we’ve been met with that same fervent feeling time and time again. Inspiration is no stranger to us, for we are familiar with the gifts of excitement and zeal that it brings when we are propelled by the actions and stories of others. We express how we feel by saying “that inspires me” because it’s the best way we know to describe what’s happening on the inside.

The Leader I've Watched for 17 Years

The Leader I've Watched for 17 Years

It was July 23, 2000 – we packed the car for a Marcantonio summer tradition. We were heading 50 miles south to Smithfield, Rhode Island to watch our New England Patriots start training camp practices at Bryant College.

This year was different. Our uniform changed as did our head coach.

As a 10-year-old I felt this was probably a good thing. A few months prior – the day after Christmas – my grandpa and I were walking back to our car after the Patriots lost their third game in a row to the Buffalo Bills. As we crossed the street Patriots coach Pete Carroll was stopped at a red light.

My grandfather crossed the road screaming a few choice words at our coach. So, yes, even as a 10-year-old I knew a new coach was probably good – especially for grandpa’s sake as he spent many days complaining about good ole’ Pete.

We got a new coach, Bill Belichick. I was upset we traded our first-round draft pick for him. But, my grandpa and uncle insisted he was a great coach. We also took him for the Jets – so that wasn’t a bad thing.

New coach. New uniforms. A new season. We arrived at training camp excited.

We noticed there were more fans than normal, but we could hear the players breathing we were so close. I intently watched QB Michael Bishop – my favorite Patriots player. I was hoping a rookie QB named Tom Brady wouldn’t beat him out for the No. 2 QB spot behind Drew Bledsoe.

We left that day with a new level of expectation. Seventeen years later from that coaching change and that expectation and excitement remains strong. As football season approaches the fore-front of our minds, I can’t help but reflect on that day in Rhode Island.

Since Belichick became the Patriots coach, I’ve watched 306 games. I’ve attend 40-50 practices. I’ve listened to hundreds of press conferences and read thousands of articles.

Belichick quickly became a part of many New Englanders families. He wasn’t just a coach anymore. Although I’ve never said a word to Belichick he has been a constant leader in my life for almost two decades.

Naturally, when you’ve been around (listened, read and observed) someone for 17 years, you pick up on a few things. Here’s what I’ve personally learned from Bill Belichick.

The Real Reasons Why I Visit Disney World

The Real Reasons Why I Visit Disney World

Since the year we got married, Matt and I have made an effort to visit Disney World in Orlando, FL., at least once per year.

It might be for one day, or it may be for one week. Regardless of the time – we strategically invest financially and structurally within our calendars to make a trip happen. And while the budget and timeline may prove difficult to pan out sometimes, the rewards are always worth it.

From a first glance to most, it seems like we are Disney fanatics. It appears we're the type of people who eat, breath, and sleep anything by Walt Disney. In actuality, this is only 50 percent true :) But the other 50 percent of our perpetual return to the same rides, same parks, and same dining options actually stems off of motives that are surprising to most.

Interestingly enough, we aren’t even the only ones who feel this way. As we’ve experienced through personal conversations, many younger and older leaders alike share an appreciation for Disney for the same reasons we do.

It’s not necessarily because of the need to relive childhood dreams. It’s not because of immaturity or to live out mantras from Peter Pan such as “Never Grow Up.” Instead, the reasons across the board are fascinatingly based out of leadership principles and purposes connected to faith.

So, just for the fun of it, here are three reasons as to why we visit Disney World every year:

The Church Down The Street

The Church Down The Street

It was a normal Friday evening youth service. We were playing games while eating cheap pizza in a room so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think.

As the regular students arrived, there was a rare sight for a Friday night. There was a new student. At a smaller church, this is one of the greatest sights in the world. As the new student entered he was immediately rushed by other students welcoming him, along with a few who recognized him for school.

I quickly made my way over to him. While engaged in small talk I discovered that he attended a church down the street. It wasn’t “a” church down the street, it was “the” church down the street. He attended the “big” church that I often watched from a distance.

Instead of getting to know this student, I became self-obsessed with finding out information about his church. Every statement he made was quickly followed by an arrogant hyper-spiritual answer:

Student: Our youth services are normally an hour and a half.

Me: WHAT! We have our three-hour services.

Student: Yeah, we have PS4’s and a coffee café in our lobby, which is fun!

Me: That’s crazy gimmicks. Those teenagers just need an encounter with Jesus.

Student: On Sunday, we have two services. Each service is a little over an hour.

Me: Psst. They obviously don’t let the Holy Spirit move.

What this student didn’t realize was this short conversation was some festered up ill-feelings I had toward his church down the street. In my three years at my church, I never stepped foot in his church or even talked with a leader. Instead, I developed a negative perspective of how they operated.

I No Longer Need an Amen

I No Longer Need an Amen

I preached my first Sunday message to adults when I was 16 years old. My sermon was about learning to hear God’s voice using the story of Mary Magdalene and Jesus after his resurrection as my main text.

If you can believe it, I paired my message with a short monologue (talk about awkward) because it was the mid 2000s, and the human video/drama age was still alive and thriving in small and big churches alike.

I’ll forever honor the great man – my pastor for 20+ years – who instilled courage in me, saw God’s calling on my life to teach and preach, and gave me an opportunity to do so at such a young age.

Many communication lessons came with that first night in front of an attentive church – yes, with one of them being don’t do a monologue in the middle of your message. What I remember surprised me the most though is how vocal listeners were to express themselves.

From a teenager’s perspective, a common theme appeared. The church seemed more vocal at certain points in the message. Well thought out points and thoughts were received with claps, outspoken “mmhmm’s” and clear “Amen’s.” So in conjunction, one newly experienced speaker could also assume not doing such a good job would result in quietness… right?

So then and there, the measurement scale was drawn:

Loud, vocal church = good, effective preaching

Quiet church = better luck next time preaching

Watching my favorite pastors online, this measurement scale still seems to be effective.

Even today, my top speaker to listen and learn from is Steven Furtick, and from the observation of his congregation, he does an incredible job! The atmosphere is electrifying. People are hungry to hear God’s Word. They hang on his every thought and explanation. No one seems bored. The feedback is great. Church is lively and vibrant.

So if that’s the standard, my only conclusion has always been “Preach like that.”

You Will Want to Quit Ministry

You Will Want to Quit Ministry

Two weeks prior to my college graduation I had my first-job lined up as a youth pastor at a church in Central Louisiana. I was excited and ready to change the world.

In mentioning this to a co-worker, he scooted his chair near mine: "Matt, I'm telling you. You will always want to way to quit ministry."

The backstory to this comment was unfortunate. My co-worker previously held a ministry position and after years quit. This was the first time he shared his transparent story with me, but full of zeal, I brushed off his comments. I knew there was no way I would ever have those feelings. 

Five short months later I contemplated everything. I was barely surviving financially, the youth group was stagnant, and my peers I graduated with were loving life in their big jobs in their big cities. I wanted to quit.

Maybe my co-worker was right? 

Next month will mark five years of ministry for my wife and I. We don't have it all figured out as people still give us crazy eyes when we say we are both 26-years-old -- but in five years, we've had some beyond unique experiences.

You're going to read about my inner battles. Kayla had those too. She could equally write her own lessons as we both traveled a long journey in a short time. But, the one constant of Kayla was her rock solid relationship with Jesus. She never wanted to quit serving Him or His church. She was our strength, so while I lashed out and went on a spiritual hiatus, she was the constant voice and person on the other side.

I'm going to take you through my perspective and battles of each year. Hindsight is so valuable. I'd love to go back to May 2012, shake myself, and move my mindset to present day. It's my hope that this blog offers a perspective for a young leader (and someone leading young leaders) of my struggles and conclusions.

It's my hope you can identify one of these "wanting to quit" moments and obtain a self-aware nature to change before it's too late. Also, be aware that I've not arrived (nor will I ever). I'll look back to 2017 in five years and laugh again, but perspective is key for others to share in seasons of life.

So, let's jump in!

Why People Don't Want to Be My Friend

Why People Don't Want to Be My Friend

I can always hear my dad’s distant voice in my head when I think about friendship.

“Kayla, if you get to the end of your life with as many friends as you have fingers, then you’ve had a truly great life.”

It wasn’t a totally understandable thought for a fourth grader, but I still let those words sink in deep. As my days through high school, college and career life trickled by, the sound advice became even more true.

Pure friendships with value and purpose are hard to come by – and those in play five to ten years ago may not necessarily be the same circle of comrades still present today.

Spending my teenage years as part of a lively youth group and involved in several school activities, I never seemed to lack in the friend department. I never had available time to even find myself alone or without being in the midst of others.

Yet, this dynamic changed in college. Study time, internships, work schedules and the general daily grind took my attention elsewhere, and an unhealthy balance of leaning on my boyfriend (now husband) for all my relationship/friendship needs was put into play.

Somewhere along the lines I convinced myself that this was normal. I convinced myself that it shouldn’t take work to be friends with someone – and that if it did, it wasn’t meant to be.

 It’s taken years of developed self-awareness and intentional habits to swing back into balance.

I’m grateful to finally be at a point in life where I can say that I have healthy friendships. In fact, I see most of them consistently during small groups throughout the week, which is the perfect outlet for us to catch up, vent, laugh and cry together and share the week’s funniest moments about work or home.

Thirty-Six Emails And Counting

Thirty-Six Emails And Counting

I crawled out of bed and slowly walked to the kitchen. I threw away the old coffee in the filter from the night before and started brewing some fresh coffee.

I took seven short steps over to my dining room table, which in all actuality was a coffee table so short you had to sit on the ground to use. I turned on my computer, wiped my eyes, and prepped for my voyage to send out a sea of emails.

As my computer loaded and with coffee in hand, I turned on the new live episode of SportsCenter. I logged onto and begin firing away. I was four months away from graduating college and I felt pretty confident about my job prospects.

Despite the fact that we were in the wake of another Great Recession that saw 53 percent of college graduates jobless or underemployed in 2012, I thought my resume was fail proof.

Boy was I wrong.

I cracked my knuckles and got to work. One email after another ... one email after another, until I applied or inquired about 36 jobs. By 8 a.m., I shut my computer and got ready for my day filled with classes, a job, and an internship without pay.

This process continued the next day and every day after. Despite my 36 emails and counting I was jobless, and being jobless left me in a state of constant rejection.

At this point many of my peers and professors were alarmed by my job search. They knew my resume boasted some heavy hitters in the journalism field, but it didn't matter. Every day I felt like I was sending emails to space as I often heard no response. It hurt. It was embarrassing. 

Weeks before graduation I felt a shift in my purpose and started to pursue ministry careers over the journalism field. This decision was grueling and difficult -- and coincidently the day I decided to go full in on ministry, I got an email response with a dream job offer -- GO FIGURE! (Read full story here)

I emailed churches, like I did with the media companies, and still no luck. The lowest point came when I applied to be a receptionist in various towns and no luck. I was defeated and gave up.

One month from graduation I decided to stop waking up early to send emails. I did nothing. Interestingly enough the week was peaceful and I wasn't worried about my future. The Friday of the week I took my email hiatus, I received a call from a church I had previously connected with. It was about an opportunity.

The offer was significantly less than normal part-time pay, but I committed to working full-time hours. I assumed God would take care of me (He did, by the way). It wasn't the job or career field I ever thought for myself, but hey, I got a job offer!

By Monday, I accepted the job and started working two days after college graduation. 

The Desert Island: Where Conversations Go to Die

The Desert Island: Where Conversations Go to Die

I’ll just come out and say it – I love small groups. If it was up to me, I would binge watch Hulu for 7+ hours when I got home from work, but choosing to be in small groups places myself and others in an environment to engage with one another. It’s healthy and life-giving. It’s a good reason to get together. It’s an avenue to create relationships.

Each semester starts off the same way though.

Everyone who may begrudgingly come and even the willing just stare at each other awkwardly in a room. As the small group leader, I more so act as a facilitator to get people to open up. As those who have attended my groups can attest, this usually requires me asking goofy questions until a conversation sparks. Depending on the topic though, that spark may easily spread into wildfire shortly after.

One particular small group I led adventured through a book dealing with life priorities. Essentially, the book helped each person analyze the necessities of their personal life in an effort to clear out the crud we allow to crowd our sight every day.

We already trekked through some difficult conversations about money, faith, and service – but that day we floated into uncharted waters. It was time to open up about our home lives and our families.

Shortly after bringing up family, recollected pieces of the group conversation remains blurry. I’m not sure how we got from point A to point B. All I remember hearing is the sentence that started the spark – “If my child did that, I would just spank them until they learned their lesson.”

Here’s some key background information for you: our small group at the time was equivalent to that of Gilligan’s Island.

While there wasn’t a Skipper or a Mary Ann, we did have two moms (one who spanked and one who didn’t), one empty-nester, one divorced father and one confused leader who didn’t have any children. The conversation was headed out on a three-hour tour, and I was afraid we would eventually end up on a deserted island.

Only one word can describe what came next -- tension. Some became defensive. Some offered empathy. Each shared their experience with their own children or how they were raised. It was difficult.

The conversation had to be navigated carefully. I don’t believe we ever got through the curriculum. I firmly know we never came to a conclusion of what was right or wrong. Yet strangely enough, we all left satisfied.

Each had an opportunity to have their voice heard at the table. Each had an opportunity to listen to an experience that was not their own. We all talked. We all listened. It was a strange feeling to all disagree yet all remain part of the same group.

I believe it’s what’s we call out for today yet struggle to find – unity without uniformity. Communion with one another without compromise.

1,570 Miles to the Swamp

1,570 Miles to the Swamp

I took a sip of coffee and placed my left hand on my forehead. As I scanned over the paper in front of me, I intently marked the paper with my red pen.

It was my second semester of college, and I wasn’t studying for an exam. I was deciding my top three colleges choices of where I would transfer to. The list of 25 wasn’t well thought out – in fact, it was random and had no strategy.

Two hours prior, I threw on my clothes and left me door room at Dean College in Franklin, Mass., to meet with my guidance counselor. To my surprise, she was elated to see my GPA. She told me something I thought I would never hear – “you can transfer to almost any school in the country.”

As I quickly walked back to my dorm I needed a strategy to collect my thoughts and endless opportunities. So naturally, being a football fanatic, I printed out the Top 25 NCAA Football Teams from the fall and started my college search. 

The next round of criteria was a little more thought out:

  • Round 1: Cross off any state I refused to live in.
  • Round 2 (10 options): Cross off any school that cost over $20,000 per year.
  • Round 3 (5 options): Rank the top journalism schools and boil list down to three.
  • Round 4 (3 options): Take campus visits.

In March 2009, I took my first visit to Baton Rouge. When I returned home, I knew LSU was the school for me. I applied, got accepted (kinda), and turned a page in my life journey.

Three months later I packed my 1996 Saturn (without air conditioning) and was ready for the 25-hour drive. As I trekked into Louisiana I set my GPS for my new address, which was a house with two roommates that I had never met and discovered through Craigslist.

I moved 1,570 miles away from home without knowing a single person all because I wanted an adventure. More importantly, I wanted to set myself up for the best education and degree I could position myself with for the future.

When I made the decision to move to Louisiana, I was provisionally accepted to LSU. If I did not maintain a 3.25 GPA for my first semester, I would have to move back to Massachusetts. In high school, my average GPA was a 2.4. While my GPA was high at Dean College (3.8), a junior college and LSU were on two very different academic levels.

I took a risk on a dream. I took a risk on something most people thought wasn’t for me. I risked everything for the sake of looking like a failure in six shorts months.

It's My Pleasure: 6 Lessons For the Church from Chick-fil-A

It's My Pleasure: 6 Lessons For the Church from Chick-fil-A

Upon graduating college, Chick-fil-A was not the place I envisioned myself landing. Endless amounts of chicken and the growing infatuation for chicken (plus two pickles) sandwiches seemed less than the bright future anticipated. Thankfully, it was the exact job God planted me in to grow my love for people, not poultry.

While my time with CFA recently ended, what I gained from the company never will. Forgetting the times I spilt three gallons of sweet tea on the floor and had to remake 150 homemade biscuits, I’ll pass along the valuable lessons learned during the past 13 months.

1. It’s my pleasure! Or is it?

Chick-fil-A is known for having the most caring team members around, workers who take pride and pleasure in what they do. While working at my most recent restaurant, many guests posed the question, “Why is everyone here so nice?!”

Here’s the secret; the hiring process for Chick-fil-A is brutal and hard to get through. Operators only hire the cream of the crop in group interviews and stacks of applications. If it’s not going to be their pleasure serving others, then Chick-fil-A is not the company for them. In the words of a former operator, “the paycheck is not the reason they should be applying at this company.”

When considering if a ministry/a church volunteer position is for your or someone else, take a close look at the reason why. If serving others isn’t the top reason, it’s not a good fit for the church.

2. Stop stocking Polynesian.

The first faces of a Chick-fil-A restaurant are the front counter crew. If someone on the frontline isn’t taking an order, their first trained reaction is to clean and their second is to stock.

Know what America’s favorite dipping sauce is? Most guess Chick-fil-A sauce, but it’s surprisingly Polynesian sauce. With a high demand for the beloved, tangy sweet-and-sour sauce, many on the frontline find themselves keeping occupied and being on task by stocking Polynesian when the lines get low.

Unfortunately, if all eyes stay too long on the task, the guests are ignored.

Where are our eyes in the presence of guests? Is it on the church budget, the worship team set up, the attendance … or on the needs of those we have a moment with? There’s a difference in completing a task and actually doing our job.

From Idol to Assest: How Football Changed Everything

From Idol to Assest: How Football Changed Everything

It was the big leagues. The Super Bowl of preaching.

For the first time ever, I spoke to adults in a church service. It was Wednesday, June 13, 2012 and despite the fact that there was only 30 adults in the building, it was a big deal.

As I prayed and labored over my message, I decided to skip over the fun topics on God's love, grace and purpose, and instead go right for idolatry -- putting things above our relationship with God). 

If you read my last blog (The Story Behind the Frame) you'll get a reference to my perspective at this point. It was during this time of life that I was in the middle of my 'remove everything journalism' related stage along with my 'stop watching football forever' stage.

I had stopped watching football for two full years because I felt it was an idol in my life. I felt it was keeping me from being close to Jesus. The reality -- yes, hindsight is 20/20 is that my self-imposed barrier to Jesus was still there regardless of if I spent three hours watching the New England Patriots or not. 

Still, as I got ready to speak on idolatry I had a compelling idea. I spoke in a Patriots jersey and talked about my own personal idolatry hoping to connect with the audience. (Don't mind the cheesy Instagram filter. It was 2012)

The Parable of the Talker

The Parable of the Talker

I’m certain many of you reading have been put in crowd-pleasing situations where it is appropriate to poke fun at yourself. 

One of my favorite past one-liners was telling others that I pursued a degree in Mass Communication solely because communication (or mainly talking) was the only talent I possessed.

In hindsight, it is possible that most people laughed not from hysteria but rather because of the deep irony and truth presented in the joke itself.

Unlike many who face routine nervousness when having to lead a meeting or conduct a presentation, my continual strength has been the ability to talk. For those who know me personally, “ability to talk” is an understatement. I’m self-aware of the fact that I could have a conversation with an inanimate object if the time and moxie was present. 

I’ve always enjoyed sharing stories and swapping thoughts with others (hence, this blog). Rare are the times when my conversation is at a loss of words.

Because of this potential, I found myself at an early age not having to put much effort into public speaking. Demonstrations or lessons that took classmates weeks to prepare for were usually adlibbed by myself. I considered this continual predicament to be “#blessed” and never gave it another thought. 

Unfortunately, what I considered luck or talent at the time eventually morphed into a full blown bad habit. I knew I was good – and I knew I could get away with it.

While I pursued my Mass Communication degree with the intentions of working in journalism, my future took a different direction as my husband and I now work in ministry. While journalists and pastors seem eons apart in nature, they share one common denominator – deadlines. 

Just as the time clock for a story to be posted eventually comes to an end, the perpetual Sunday and Wednesday always comes around. Whether you work for days or pull an all-nighter, your time is boiled down to the deadline. It was the toxic food that fed the beast, transforming a bad habit into a lifestyle.

Still, no one knew.

The Story Behind the Frame

The Story Behind the Frame

You can learn a lot of about someone from their office or workspace. In most cases, it's easy to tell their work habits and general interests by simply looking around the room.

If you step foot in my office, you'll quickly notice a few sporadic themes centered around the following, the Patriots, Disney, The Office, degrees and certifications, white boards and one purple and gold picture frame.

Of all the random nicknacks and obsessive amounts of Tom Brady memorabilia in my office, this one picture frame is the most valuable -- even more than the two pieces of paper that cost $50,000 on my wall. It's valuable not because of what's in it (an old magazine article) but instead because of the story behind it.

It's a story that has radically changed my life, one that haphazardly led me on two excessive emotional extremes.

Why I'm Thankful for My Couch

Why I'm Thankful for My Couch

It’s intriguing to see how people’s minds are triggered toward thinking about God. For some, a scenic walk through nature brings up deep thoughts of faith. Sometimes life events such as births, weddings and funerals shifts one’s mind to the spiritual. 

Interestingly though for me, my daily reminder of the one I serve sits unswervingly in the middle of my living room. Every morning I think of God when I sit on my couch.

This couch was our first furniture purchase as a married couple. We were fortunate enough when we got married in Summer 2013 to have all our needed furniture given to us by other families and friends. Our prior couch was given to us by a woman who moved to South America and literally couldn’t take it with her, and while it served its purpose in our newlywed years, the couch was on its best days a poor piece at Goodwill.

So when the cushions starting splitting from wear and tear, we made the appropriate decision to look for a new couch, specifically a larger couch that could seat more than three people and would last us for years to come. Our search landed us on a $1,000 sectional couch with an ottoman (our dog’s personal mini-bed). It was the best bang for our buck and from a notable brand name as well. 

The downside to the story? That decision and saving process was made more than a year ago… and up until the end of 2016 we still didn’t have the couch.

The money wasn’t adding up fast enough. At the rate we were saving, it would be another two years before we could even think about looking at a new couch. So, I got to work. I tried to sell household items I no longer needed. I became a Disney travel agent to make money on the side. I designed a few resumes. 

It somewhat transformed into a personal vendetta – what could I do extra to get this couch faster? My mind consistently went back to an adage from my childhood – if you want something, you have to work for it.

When I Stopped Arguing with Old People

When I Stopped Arguing with Old People

You know the feeling when you’re about to lose your mind? The moment that has been compiling for a while and you feel your blood pressure rise? You know, that feeling where you can’t hide it in your face anymore?

Okay, good. Stay thinking about that experience — it will help the narrative to my ‘jumping off the cliff’ story.

The first song of our morning worship had just concluded when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Nevermind the typical awkward moment when your singing (off key) with hands lifted and you’re immediately interrupted (we’ve all been there). An older gentleman, or “old person” as I called them, signaled me to the church lobby.

I knew this was going to be fun. After all our senior pastor was gone, and it seemed like every time he went away everyone always acted just a little bit more crazy.

He put his face in a close uncomfortable proximately to mine — yes, that close — and demanded me to tell the worship team to play softer. This type of problem was the usual occurrence at this time. I told him, in my inside voice, it would be impossible for me to do that with worship already starting and with the sound being controlled on stage.

Pastor Confessions: I Hate People

Pastor Confessions: I Hate People

Door shut, blinds closed, headphones blaring, and no one should dare to disturb me.

I’m a 20-something millennial who doesn’t have time for your issues. I’m an efficient administrator who has tasks more important than our conversation. By the way, I’m openly introverted — you know it — so get the hint, I don’t want to talk to you.

When you find me outside of my office, I’m far too busy getting things ready for the upcoming event. When you glance over after services and see me talking to teenagers, let me be, because they get me more than you ever will.

After all, who needs relationships with people? You do your thing, and let me do my thing. Point blank.

Man, what a bad attitude for someone whose job exists for people, huh?