Stepping Back: Forging Friendships

The first in a series of posts on what I’m learning by temporarily stepping away from ministry.

A little over three months ago we decided to step back from ministry for a while. I had felt for quite a while like God was telling me to take some time off, work on my own faith and work on leading my family better. After the last half of 2010 kicked us around quite handily, I decided it was time. It wasn’t easy but we really needed some time.

So how has it been? So far, just like the rest of life — crazy. Out of the last three-ish months we’ve been in Austin and well enough to attend church maybe four times. It has been nice, however, to be able to attend church and just be there to worship. It’s not something I was really wired for, but I’m trying to get used to it for however long God has us on this path.

One of the big things I’ve discovered is that I need to be much more intentional about forging friendships. I did a terrible job in my three years at Legacy making friends. There was a small group of maybe six people that I was in regular contact with outside of Sunday mornings. I’m still in semi-regular contact with those same people. The rest of the church? I talk to them the same amount I used to, which is to say, almost never.

In working on the church, I forgot to actually be a part of it. For whatever reason, I have never been able to really open up to people. This is Rebecca’s number one complaint about our relationship (well, she’s also not too fond of my inability to put dirty clothes somewhere other than my side of the bed), I just don’t open up well. Working in the churches for the last ten years has allowed me to be part of them without actually having to be a part of them. It’s a crutch and I think one of the primary reasons God wanted to pull it out from under me. Now my lack of deep friendships shows. The fact that I’m no longer serving as a pastor has left a glaring hole that should be filled by genuine relationships. The fact that I haven’t fostered those well in the past has caught up with me.

This is really true of anyone in life. My situation is unique to me, but really if we don’t take the time to grow these relationships, there will come a time when we need them and they aren’t there. No matter what the future holds for us, this is one of the things I have got to work on.


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