382. what a guy wants
So a few days ago, I posted this status update on twitter and facebook:
This was quite a monumental shift and an unexpected one at that (even for me).
This big shift was really the result of a number of smaller shifts – shifts that I didn’t even realize were taking place until they spilled out of my mouth in various conversations (paging Dr. Freud).
See, up until I posted that statement on facebook, I had been planning on moving back to Hawaii to do some kind of church something after graduating from grad school and being ordained with the Disciples of Christ. And because I’m graduating and getting ordained this year, I was anticipating being back in Hawaii by late 2013 or early 2014 at the latest. My six year stay in Seattle was coming to a close and that prompted a number of conversations with people who wanted to know what was next for me.
So, in different conversations, as people would ask me about my future plans, I found myself saying things like:
Each of those statements were given weeks apart and every time those words came out of my mouth, they came as a surprise to me. I mean, even as I was speaking them, it sounded as if that had been my plan along. I spoke with calm resolve, but internally I was stunned at what I was saying.
I’m on a flight back to Hawaii to attend the Hawaiian Island Ministries 2013 Conference. As a result of my newfound desire to get back into the dating scene, and upon the recommendation of a friend, I downloaded the book, No More Mr. Nice Guy, by Robert Glover (the book is about dating and it’s not as bad as the title makes it seem). In one of the chapters, Glover talks about how a lot of nice guys never get what they want in relationships because they don’t know what they want in life – they only know how to provide other people with what they want. And I gotta say, I totally resonated with what he was saying. In fact, about two years ago, I put up a post where I recognized that pattern in my own life. I wrote that
…I’ve been living for people. When I was hanging out with someone, I was hanging out for them. I was always thinking about what that person wanted out of the relationship. I kept trying to find ways that I could help this other person or somehow give them what they wanted from me.
So I’m on the plane, reading about the need to recognize and admit what it is that I want in life, and that’s when it hit me.
I don’t want to be a pastor. I want to be a writer.
It was quite an epiphany.
And the irony of the situation wasn’t lost on me. I came to this realization as I’m on a plane back to Hawaii for a conference that I attend in order to prepare myself to plant a church there.
So I made a decision. I decided to use the conference as a kind of discernment retreat. I would sit and listen to the speakers and basically, my approach was this: unless I hear something or make a connection with someone who somehow confirms that I really am supposed to come back to Hawaii as a pastor, I’m going to stay in Seattle for the foreseeable future.
And I listened. And I met and talked with people. And while it was abundantly clear that there is a huge need for a more progressive theological voice in the pulpit in Hawaii – one that could speak to and resonate with the younger, local population – it was also clear to me that I was not the one to bring it.
Well, let me be more specific. If I can speak with uncharacteristic candor about myself, I believe I could have had a successful church. I really enjoy writing sermons and I like delivering them. I’m also good at sitting with people and helping them work through their theological/personal issues. I have a relatively good grasp of media technology and understand how to use these tools to speak to today’s media-savvy culture. Of course none of these things (even in aggregate) guarantee a successful church plant, but I know I would have been able to give it a hell of a good go.
But there’s a huge difference between what someone can do and what someone wants to do.
And here’s what I came to see. If I were to do a church plant, I would be doing it for others – not for myself, and (this is a particularly haunting realization) maybe not even for God.
So what am I going to do?
Well, here I have to be a bit coy. I have a lot of ideas, but I’m not ready to reveal them quite yet. As a teaser, I can say that it’ll be related to a lot of the writing I’ve been doing on my blog and the research I’ve been doing for school. So, yeah, it’s going to likely have something to do with singleness and sexuality in the church. I’m super stoked about the possibilities and I can’t wait to get working on it.
Seattle will be the perfect place to launch it. I’ll have access to various seminary libraries, I’ll be able to stay in contact with faculty to get their input and I’ll be able to audit/sit in on classes. I have lots of techy friends who can help me with the back end stuff, and more importantly, with monetizing my ideas.
And the time is right. The Christian interwebs are abuzz with the topic of singleness and sexuality in the church these days (here are just a few examples) and I can’t wait to throw my own hat into the ring.