Planting a church truly is the hardest job I have ever had. I know I keep saying that lately, but the truth is....I am processing this reality on a daily basis.
I am beginning to understand exactly why this is so true for me....As a church planter you are essentially on your own. While I have a team, a core group and a vision...The beginning of this thing is resting on my shoulders right now. My hard work, my drive, my leadership and my faith will help build this church. But...those things simply are NOT enough. What I really need is confidence in who God has called me to be, and what God has called me to do. I need confidence that He will build His Church....He just chooses to let me be part of it.
Truth is....That is not easy to maintain as a leader when you are building something. There is an ingredient in the life of something new that is not present.....and won't be for a while. It's an ingredient that truthfully lends itself to one of my greatest flaws, and would likely be better if it stayed absent!
I admitted to my wife this week, that I miss the validation of a congregation when I preach. I miss the excitement of a crowd each week. I miss the satisfaction of pulling off a great event. Basically...I miss people liking me! (I'm the kind of guy who needs lots of verbal affirmation)
That is 100% pride...Simply put, it is a flaw in my life. Pastoring and Planting a Church will pin point your flaws faster than anything in the entire world! And, this journey has been no exception.
I have had to wrestle with the reality that I often derive too much confidence and self-worth from the approval and affirmation of men, and not from my position in Christ. What that means, is I wrestle with the very thing that I try to help other people overcome. I teach every week that we are 100% loved and accepted by Christ, just the way we are. But, in my life I am still wrestling with that concept. I often feel as though I must succeed more, work harder and go further in order to be the best God has called me to be. I even apply this to my personal relationships. I want people to see me as successful and smart...not the unsure, scared, mediocre and rookie leader that I really am.
The reality is that God loves me, and sees me as perfect just the way I am today. If I never accomplish another thing....I am where I need to be. I don't have to do more. This is a phrase I have to repeat to myself DAILY!!!!! In fact I have it written on my bathroom mirror, along with other things I try to remember daily.
Romans 5:6-11 says that even in my worst state, Jesus loved me enough to give His life for me. So, now that my life is better, certainly not perfect, why would I ever believe He loves or accepts me any less. Ephesians 2:10 says that I am the workmanship of Jesus....meaning that He created me just the way I am! I should stand confident in Him as a result of these things.
My worth, and yours, MUST come from who Jesus is, and the love He has shown for us. It must NOT come from people's approval and affirmation of us. We can do nothing more to be loved greater by Jesus. So, be who you are created to be, do what you are called to do.....and enjoy the security of being loved fully by Jesus no matter what happens!