For those who don’t know about my home life, I can often be weird and obsessive. I will find a topic that interests me and I’ll binge watch/read/research. I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of detective novels (Chandler > Hammett, btw) and Humphrey Bogart movies and moving onto Japanese directors. It started mostly with Kurosawa, but I’ll be checking out some Ozu, Kinoshita, Mizoguchi and I want to include Chinese(ish) directors like Kar Wai, Chen and Woo.
Yesterday, I watched a gritty YouTube version of Hard Boiled (1992) where Tony Leung plays an undercover cop posing as an underworld strong-arm. Similar to Leo in Departed (2006), Leung has a scene where he discusses the stresses of being two people. In a way, the scene echoes a lingering feeling that I’ve had for this first month of full-time ministry. I have this sneaking suspicion that one of these days, I’ll be discovered. People will find out that I’d rather go to a Kid Cudi concert than a Hillsong one (actual situation this February), I’d rather read Murakami than C.S. Lewis, I listen to more Bill Simmons than John Piper (RIP Grantland). Parents will discover my tattoos and hide their children. A copy of my school transcript will leak, and the collective gasp will be heard all through Orange County.
Now that I’m full-time it feels different. Perhaps the days are gone when I could karaoke IDFWU, enjoy moonlight cigars, or sneak off during a church camping trip to sleep alone by the beach. It feels like I have to step up and into the shoes of the men I’ve known who’ve held this position, none of whom enjoy BIg Sean. I’m not wired like the pastors I’ve known, and I’m still figuring out if that’s ok. There’s a fear that if people found out who I really am, they’d be disappointed, like “bruh, this dude isn’t even that holy, though.” It’s not just people’s view of me, but the idea that a weight of responsibility weighs on my unholy shoulders, not just part-time, but full-time is a scary thought.
I think I’m coming to grips with it. I could write a long spiel on how I know that it’s God doing the work (thankfully), but today, I’m thinking about the rest of the squad. My comfort is that the fruit of my ministry isn’t based on me. Since I’ve arrived, I’ve had the privilege of laboring beside a great team of passionate, dedicated people; something I’ve found to exist in every church in every corner of the world. But even if I didn’t have these great folks, I know that I’m not, and won’t be, the focal point. I’m starting to think that this is the whole point. Maybe I’m just the inadequate guy who steps aside to make room for others.
My philosophy of ministry, a.k.a. modus operandi, a.k.a. weapon of choice has always been delegation (not because I’m lazy!) and creating opportunities for other talented, gifted people to do what they do. I don’t mind being someone who just gets out of the way.
This year, if you take a look at the two powerhouse teams in the NBA, you see two very different narratives. In the West you have the Golden State Warriors, coached by Luke Walton while Steve Kerr recovered from back surgery. In the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers were coached by David Blatt until he was unceremoniously replaced by the guy Allen Iverson stepped over. People attribute Walton’s success in Golden State to the same quality that made him a great Laker; sitting quietly on the bench while the superstars win the game. On the flip side, Blatt was known to tout his own laurels from the Euroleague (LOL) and instill confidence in his coaching through extolling his own success and expertise.
I don’t mind being a Luke Walton (for one, he is very handsome in this photo). Let the kids be the Kobes and Currys. I mean, it’s clear that a lot of the teenagers I’ve met so far are better people than me. So I’m going to do what I can to let them shine as brightly as possible. When the time comes, I’ll protect them from the people who would try to dim that light but mostly, I’ll just get out of the way.
I don’t know what this means for my off the field antics, i.e. my love for Kanye West, Montecristos, tattoos, etc. I think it means that I must not become a stumbling block for these kids. I don’t think I have to stop being myself, but I’d be naive to think that I wouldn’t have to sacrifice in order to improve as a person. If that means giving up any and all of my preferences, I will. Just…can I listen to Waves, first?