A church from Pennsylvania replied with a request for more information and seemed genuinely interested in me as a prospect for their worship leader position. I had been sending out applications for a couple of years already and had probably submitted somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty of the little gems. Each time I thought God would lead them to notice me, to see the heart that I was bringing to ministry. I felt I had no need to brag on myself musically and believed further that my passion for Jesus was the greater issue to stand on. I was ignored. By the few that did respond, I had been informed that, at the age of 37, I was too old. Churches wanted younger pastors. I thought that was just silly, paranoia on the part of older, jaded people that already held positions in churches. I could not understand why they wanted to discourage me from ministry. Wasn’t it their calling, their passion?
Then the response came from the church in Pennsylvania. What did I think of ministry in the church? How did I respond to authority? What were my views on biblical truths? I answered each question honestly and from my heart. But I misstepped. I informed the pastor that I believed in standing for the truth and that should a person in authority say something untrue I would consider it my duty to stand against that. My words were taken as an underling who would fight with this pastor on any disagreement. Not what I said or intended but that is how they were taken. They were no longer interested. I explained that I considered myself under their authority and considered it also my duty to submit to what God had placed over me. Nope, still not interested.
I was angry. I was hurting. It was so unfair. What was wrong with me?
Fast forward a few years. I am working in a church as a volunteer and apply for the open Youth Pastor position. Three candidates are being interviewed and I am one of them. After the interviews are conducted I am informed that the position is being offered to one of the other candidates and that if he did not accept, and the other person wasn’t interested either, that they would still not hire me, considering me not good enough for the position. I told them that though I knew my struggles and, in my insecurity, saw how they would be crazy to hire me, I also knew that with Jesus living through me they would be crazy not to hire me. The pastor came to me to rebuke me for not accepting their decision and let me know how disappointed he was that I let my emotions so confuse my judgement. Many were hurt by their decision including their chosen candidate, the youth, the pastor who lead in the decision and the church as a whole.
I was devastated. Why did no one want me? Why were they willing to make a bad decision rather than risk anything on me? Why didn’t God intervene?
Hah! Satan does not have the final word. Defeat is always his plan but I am no longer his child. Joseph said it so well, “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”
What a story! What an adventure!
2 thoughts on “That Wasn’t What I Meant”
I’m sorry for all that, Matthew. I don’t really understand why no one seems interested. The only thing I can tell you is that God has something for you. I’m a few years older then you and I think our heart to serve Jesus is close to the same. One thing that encouraged me was realizing how God often waited until his servants were older to use them. If you can get your hand on the book,’The Indomitable Mr. O’ it’s a great book. He’s the one who started Child Evangelism Fellowship and he didn’t start it until he was 60! Also, biblically there is Abraham, Moses, and I’m sure others but I’m having a senior moment :). I don’t think churches should be looking at age, but I guess they do. When I started working with kids again I was worried about my age. Now after over a year and a half, my biggest problem is raising financial support.
Anyway, I’m really praying and thanks for sharing your heart.
Matthew, I have been thinking of this since reading it a few days ago. First, let me apologize for sounding…? when I said that my biggest problem is raising financial support! Wow, I don’t even know where that came from. It seems there is a constant battle with one thing or another. People who see ministry to children as a waste of time (had one guy stand up after I did a presentation at a Men’s Prayer Breakfast tell me that he thought I didn’t understand the hurts that having things pushed on you as a child could be. That kids should be outside playing instead of being forced to learn about Jesus and memorize scripture) and really I could go on and on about battles. You have a great heart for ministry. One thing I wanted to tell you is that when you stand for truth a lot of people and unfortunately, a lot of Christians, don’t get why you’re standing so strong for truth. You and I have made some terrible mistakes in our past–have sinned in ways that still make us sad. We were brought up with lies a lot. Once I (and I think the same has to be of you) really grasped how important for our very lives, standing on the truth of God’s Word was, it really began to set us free. In our own ways, we want to share the freedom that is only found through Jesus Christ and His Word. I teach my kids from this place of healing so, of course, I want them to love Scripture and have it in their hearts–to realize that the Bible is a personal book to them and that God’s character is the same throughout the Bible.
Getting a little off what I was going to say–what I really wanted to say is that people have to choose to know us before they can understand what this means to us. It’s not something that can come across in a job interview, I don’t think. You can come across angry at times, when I know you’re not. You’re standing for something. I come across weak and it drives me crazy–even when I try to be strong people don’t see it as strength. I’m sorry for what happened at your church (the man who stood up and said those things was from my church). Sometimes it hurts more because you think they should know you better then others.
But you are right…the enemy means all this for evil; to destroy us. But our God is greater!! He can not fail and He tells us that we can not fail. We are more than conquerors! So we stand–sometimes it feels like we stand horribly alone, but we stand! I taught the kids Deuteronomy 31:6 a little while ago and I taught them to make it personal as I am learning to do, so it goes something like this: I WILL be strong! I WILL be courageous! I will NOT be afraid! I will Not be terrified because of them (what are the thems in your life). For the Lord MY God is with me! He will NEVER leave me! He will NEVER forsake me!!