As you all know, I left my most recent ministry position back in February. I did not leave because I was hired by another church or even because I thought I’d be hired by another church. My wife and I had felt for some time that our work there was finished and it was time to press on. It was a major step of faith to leave there not knowing where to go next. We have since been attending a great church in Piperton where we are learning a lot. It’s also given us a much-needed time of ministerial rest.
Yet, I still feel called to vocational ministry in the local church. I knew when we left Leawood East that I still wanted to do church work; we just didn’t know when and where it would happen. So, I’ve been applying to churches of all sizes in various places. Some have responded, some haven’t. Some have requested more information from me, some tell me they are moving on with another candidate. I was even in serious talks with a church and went through 2 Skype interviews before they let me know they didn’t feel led to move forward with my candidacy. Other than that, I’ve been spending my weeknights at Lowe’s making sure the garden center is in tip-top shape.
All of this time of ministry limbo can take its toll on a body. There have been moments where I just felt down in the dumps about everything and wondered if what I am doing now is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life. I mean, who wants to hire someone that left his church with nowhere to go? Why, if I know I am called to church work, would God keep me from working in a church? And finally, why won’t hardly any church even give me a chance to talk to them about what I do?
As you can see, it’s been a tough month and a half. I have wondered at times if I am flirting with depression. Some days, mustering up the strength to clock in at Lowe’s drives me crazy. There are moments when I get so upset when churches email me with the “Thank you for your time” email (not at them, just at the situation).
But one thing I have come to realize is that this time of ministerial rest is a prime time for me to learn some things and place them in my arsenal without having to implement anything right away. By attending a church that is very different from any church of which I’ve ever been a part, I’m learning the healthy balance between emotion and intellectuality (a.k.a. “reverence and awe”) in corporate worship. I’m listening to several podcasts weekly that are geared toward men & women in vocational ministry. I am getting opportunities here and there to serve in local churches, and with that, I’m discovering new ways to implement old methods. And one statement has kept me grounded through all of this. As I was listening to the Rainer on Leadership: Growing Healthy Churches podcast last week, Dr. Rainer made a statement that rang through my bones and forced a piece of humble pie down my throat.
“Just because you go from a church to a secular job doesn’t mean you’re out of ministry–you just have a new mission field.”
And that just puts everything in perspective.
Sorry for my tardiness. Here’s a look back at the week that was…
- The season of supply ministry began on Sunday (3/4) as I filled in for Tim Magill at First Baptist Church of Millington. This was the largest congregation I’ve ever led in worship, so I was a bit nervous going into it. However, everyone there was hospitable and kind and down to earth. The pianist was actually an old college friend from Union. I enjoyed myself so much and cherished the opportunity to direct a larger choir and 15-piece orchestra. I hope the opportunity comes again to lead there. It was a blast.
- On Sunday evening, we were treated to a sweet fellowship from the folks at LEBC. The food and conversations were wonderful, and we were blessed by it. It was especially hard saying goodbye to some folks there, but we are grateful that in our day and age, we can still keep up with one another.
- We enjoyed the penultimate show of the 2017-2018 Orpheum season with a Saturday matinee performance of Wicked. No matter how many times we see this show, it is new every single time. It featured a wonderful cast and talented orchestra. The seats Becca chose for our season tickets are sublime and we were glad to catch a performance of this excellent show.
- I am thankful for a PT job in this season of uncertainty. But five nights a week from 6-11 paired with teaching can wear a body out. I found myself wanting to nap several times during my planning period…and perhaps during a few class periods because I was still tired from the night before. I suppose it just comes with it for now, and it’s only for a little while.
- I came down with an awful cold on Saturday morning. By my assumptions, it showed up because of my constant being outside while working at Lowe’s. I experienced the weather change firsthand, and it showed with a runny nose, headache, and achy body. I had to endure it during the show on Saturday afternoon and my shift on Saturday night. The next day wasn’t much better. Let’s hope it finally passes in the next few days so I can enjoy the spring break without worrying about being sick.
- Speaking of spring break, it was definitely time for a break at Southaven High. We were all ready for it. Exams and grades had to be completed, but it couldn’t have come sooner. Not having a break in February really did a number on us, so it was high time for a good break.
This is a season of waiting in the Brasher household. Leaving a ministry position and not knowing where God will send us next was a HUGE step of faith for us. I’ve stepped out in faith before and God has come through. There is no rhyme or reason to think He wouldn’t do it again. But alas, waiting is still a factor here.
Just the other evening, I was sitting in the parking lot at Lowe’s waiting for my shift to start. I’d had a horrible day at work. Monday night was long at Lowe’s, and I was sleep-deprived. I hardly talked to any of my co-workers. I wanted to break down and cry several times. I ate lunch alone because I didn’t want to be around people. Apparently, I didn’t cover all this up very well because several co-workers noticed and asked questions. I was so mad and upset at the fact that I get 45 minutes with my wife and daughter a day before I jet off to Lowe’s to work from 6-11 pm. Becca and I had been talking throughout the day, and we tried to combat this situation together. I was still stand-offish at home and contemplated just driving around for an hour or two without even going into work…hence, quitting the job that I’d started two days earlier.
As I sat in that parking lot, I began to pray with the 7 minutes I had left. I reminded the Lord that we had committed to go anywhere He wanted to send me. Wherever He wanted me to serve in ministry, we would go. No questions asked.
Then I looked over to that big blue store with bright white letters…and forgot that this place was included in my commitment. It’s as if God responded with, “Are you actually committed, or only committed in the field you feel you’re best suited for?” Well that certainly changed the conversation. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of that sin, I was overcome with remorse. Here I was thinking I was something high and mighty because I stepped out in faith and I [thought I] was committed to going where He wanted my family to go. Going somewhere unfamiliar is a big step for me because I put down roots. Apparently, it’s time to put a few roots down in the Garden Center of Lowe’s for a little while.
Immediately after that prayer, conviction, and repentance, I was overcome with God’s peace. The shift went by much smoother than the night before and I was busy the whole time which made the time pass quicker. I received an email that further calmed my spirits and put that whole parking lot conversation into a greater perspective. It was a late night and I was tired when I got home (and let’s not even talk about Wednesday). But I definitely see how God is working in me through all of this. As I was reading my Bible yesterday, I came upon a psalm that perfectly frames this whole season of waiting for the Brashers.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
The Lord just keeps on proving Himself over and over. Faith and trust don’t come easy, but who said the Christian life was easy?