For the first 14 years of my ministry I served behind the scenes. I truly desired to come alongside the pastors God had placed over me. I wanted them to look better, be better and grow better. It was my passion as the person who sat in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th chair to serve behind the scenes. I was happy in that position. I never really wanted the spotlight or stage.
But for the last 13 years, God consistently pushed Mary and me to the front. It is still hard for us to believe that God has put us where we are. We don't seek to be honored or over blessed by those who serve with us or those we serve - but they do. I wake up each day crazy grateful for the opportunities that God has opened up for us.
The most awkward moments for me are when someone is honoring me. Yep, I was raised in a church world where it was all "about Jesus" (and it is - but Jesus uses people). Or when someone complimented you your response had to be "Give God all the Glory." That made it even more awkward. I was never a huge fan of Pastor Appreciation Day in church because it is awkward for me. But awkward moments matter!
Awkward moments remind you where you came from.
Hard to believe how far God has taken our family. We look back over the past 20 years of marriage and cannot believe the doors God has unlocked for us. But we will never take for granted the humble beginnings in a movie theater where we were thrilled with 50 people. Those beginnings are etched in our spirits.
When people brag on our church today I always go back to the humble beginnings of praying that people will show up. The awkward moments of honor reminds me of where I cam from.
Awkward moments reveal your motives.
Yep, it's true. There are moments in life when things get awkward, but they always reveal something. I am not a huge fan of being recognized or honored because I always want it is be about Jesus. I never want to get in the way. Plus a big part of me still wants to hide out in the shadows - kind of like Saul.
The moment I start to crave the honor is the moment my motives have been revealed. Never crave the spotlight because its hot in the spotlight. You become part of the proverbial fishbowl of leadership and all eyes are on you. I learned this years ago, "If you live for the applause you will die from a lack of it."
Awkward moments often grow our platform.
Over the last 23 years of ministry I have experienced many awkward moments, but all of them God has used to increase our influence as a family. Speaking for 30 seconds at Yankee Stadium with Joel Osteen in front of 42,000 people - awkward. Especially for someone who was dealing with heavy anxiety at that time. It was awkward but it grew our influence.
Being asked to speak at churches, conferences, and leadership events are awkward for me. Why? Because I am still that little boy from Buffalo, NY just wanting to make my daddy proud. So, I know that God has allowed this kid who was raised by a single mom in a multi-divorced environment to remain that awkward, somewhat social weird boy that God has used. And because I have never forgotten where I came from God keeps taking me to bigger, better places.
Mary never desired to speak in front of people. She was content being behind the scenes - supporting the vision, lifting the vision and aligning the vision. But God thrust her into the spotlight - and she serves, speaks, encourages with such grace and elegance. Every week she inspires our church. In fact, someone told me recently, "Your message was great, but Pastor Mary stole the spotlight."
We are so incredibly thankful for our church. We read every card, every post, every email and every text that we receive from people throughout the year. We feel the love of our church. These awkward moments help us remember that its all Jesus. We could not do it without Him. In fact, we would not do it.
Over the last 13 years we have learned that AWKWARD MOMENTS MATTER to grow your life and leadership. Never forget that awkward moments matter!