01 September, 2014

If I Had Known Then What I Know Now

It was six years ago today that I began my journey as a pastor at Mosaic Church, a multi-ethnic, missional work in one of the toughest areas of Little Rock.

If I could go back in time and speak to the Mike Clowers who was venturing out into new ministry territory, there are few things I would tell him. I wouldn't attempt to persuade him to do otherwise, but I would level with him about the things he needs to have in order before he jumps.  

Here are the seven things I would tell him.

1) You need good strong boundaries to be a pastor.  The first four years of my pastorate almost took me out.  I fixated on getting processes developed and managed, getting people ordered and focused.  I threw myself into it and found myself working 60-70 hours a week.  There is a huge cost for that kind of capacity drain and the one that will pay the price is your wife and family.  Get those boundaries up and do it quick.

2) You need to make sure your identity is firmly entrenched in who you are in Christ.  You are driven by success and performance. You can't let that be your identity. Make sure you know who you are in Christ and let that lead your performance, not the other way around. 

3) The needs of people - physical, spiritual, emotional, relational - are inexhaustible.  Don't try to meet every need that presents itself to you. See item 1 above.  Your primary job is to love.

4) You need to admit that you are incompetent when it comes to issues of race, culture and diversity.  You will be called a racist even though you work for a multi-ethnic church.  And it will hurt.  Bad.  Realize that that racism and prejudice are inside of you, not necessarily by choice but by default.  They can be decoded and alleviated.  But not without some dredging of your heart.  Look at the people you call your friends. They all look like you. You're going to need deep, personal friendships with people not like you who will love you, lead you and teach you to be more competent. 

5) Many people who are with you at the beginning, will not cross the deep waters with you. There are people you trust who will leave you behind. Be prepared for that. It hurts when those you love most check out. 

6) Your best prayer life to date is terribly anemic.   'Some prayer is better than no prayer.  More prayer is better than less prayer." - Harry Li

7) The spiritual warfare you've experienced to date, has been child's play.  You will see things you've never seen before. You will bury friends and their children. You will experience manifestations of evil that will tempt you to be fearful. You will watch people make foolish decisions and you will have to walk with them through the consequences. See item 6.

That's what I would say to the Mike Clowers that started this journey six years ago today. These years have been vigorous and challenging, glorious and exhausting, victorious and strengthening.

I want to thank those who've walked with me, prayed with me and challenged me to faith and courage.  Thank you to Mark DeYmaz, Harry Li, Cesar Ortega and the Elders of Mosaic.  It's been a true adventure! I agree with you that Mosaic's best years are ahead.

May God be glorified in all we do. 

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