Barb and I were with some Pastor friends this afternoon and we began talking about odds and ends of things and the conversation came around to important encounters with God. This blog started out being called “Thoughts of a Reluctant Leader” so you can see I had some problems with being a leader. I got a little kick back and changed it to what it is now, “Thoughts From a Regular Guy.” I have kind of journaled here my struggle as I pondered leadership and all that it seems to mean to many. Boy many times I do relate to David when they tried to put Saul’s armor on him...uncomfortable and not very helpful...it just does not fit! So unlike the clothing we see out there where it says, “One size fits all” leadership is not like that at all. One size does not fit all...not even close.
So as we talked today we went over some of the events in the last few years that have had an impact on me so powerfully. I have had a few and being almost 62 years old I am afraid I may be repeating myself here but that is OK...it’s my blog anyway. I began to recount the encounter at a retreat called “Come Away With Me.” Awesome retreat held near Ashland, Ohio....highly recommend. Towards the end of the retreat during my one on one time with my spiritual advisor, I met Jesus, or really, Jesus met me in a powerful way. I have always struggled with feelings of inadequacy and more...like I did not have a voice. That whatever I had to say really did not matter...and I had better never question someone more important than me...which was pretty much everyone. I talked about how if I entered a room of leaders I felt like a fake and was afraid they would ask me to leave if they found out who I really was. I told my one friend, who had been a college professor at a Bible college, I would never dared to think I was his peer. Never. He had degrees...I had...25 years at Ford. He would never or has he ever made me feel less than...I did that. But it was how I lived. Then this encounter with Jesus...He gave me my voice back...tells me I do matter...and I do have value.
One person at the table eyes began to water...she not only could relate but she could feel the pain I had felt for all those years and wondered how I could live this out publicly...in front of my church...how painful it had to have been. You know it really was not that painful...the healing part especially. It was life giving...I got back what had been taken from me when I was about 13...my voice. And I live it out in front of my church family because some of them need to know there is always hope...always time for healing. Never too late. Not too late for her either. But this is the cool thing...I got to see right in the room my voice...my story mattered...to her and her story. Man, God is so good. I lived thinking I had nothing to offer...and now God is breathing on things I never thought He would...He can...if we let Him.
I talked about another encounter...another retreat...oh yeah...gotta love those retreats! This was for pastors only...Vineyard pastors...my tribe...my family. I think that is why this one had such an impact on me...it was my own spiritual family speaking into me. During the retreat each couple got to tell their stories...one hour per couple to tell all they wanted to. Barb and I were in a pretty good place thanks to all the stuff God has been doing and done in the other retreat. Our goal as a couple is to finish this race...and finish it well. So many we have seen crash and burn when they should be having the biggest affect.
So after you tell your story the other couples and the leaders of the retreat would speak words of affirmation to you...not prophetic things...what they saw about you that was good...that was God. It went on for quite a while....really nice people I think. Finally as it kind of was winding down one of the leaders asked me directly, “Bill did you hear what was said about you and to you?” I said sure...but you know they were nice people and they had to say nice things didn’t they? He then asked me again and then said, “Bill this IS what we see in you.” It connected...and I think it connected because it was my family speaking to me...my tribe...the people I love to journey with. It really means something when your family calls things out in you...it sticks. It has stuck...I see God doing so many cool things...even the meeting today was out of this overflow of God working in me...and me feeling like I have real value and things to share. Amazing!
Some of you can’t relate to what I am talking about...you are in a very different place and that is so cool. Others will know exactly what I am talking about...you feel the eyes looking you over...the questions on their faces. Now I hope you will experience God calling you out and restoring your voice...your calling. I hope if you hear or read nothing else but this...God is a healing, restoring God...and He loves you and believes in you. I hope your family or tribe will help you find your place...that they will call out the calling of God in your lives...they will affirm you and support you.
Before I began writing I was thinking of the healing Jesus did where the person had to turn and walk in another direction before the healing happened. I remember the lepers where Jesus simply said, “Go and show yourselves to the Priest.” And they went...and they were healed...one came back to praise God for his healing. I hope you will read this and understand that is what I am doing here...not bragging about the strides I have taken...but really I am overcome by how He has moved and healed...and I have to tell someone! My healing journey has been just that...a journey. Like the lepers I have had to head towards the temple to tell others about my healing...as I am being healed.
I admire and am so thankful for leaders who really do have it all together...but I would not trade my journey for theirs. John Wimber used to say that he would never follow or trust a leader that did not walk with a limp. Thank you John for making room for a guy like me...a regular guy...with a limp...and a healing.