Most of us know someone that can see beyond the veneer of our life and address what’s underneath. No matter what we may be portraying to the world, they can see through it.

Because of my life experiences, I can do a good job of disguising what I’m thinking and feeling. And let’s face it, a lot of people aren’t concerned with how we are really doing. It’s not too hard to wear a mask and fool the world around us.
One person I can’t fool is my wife. And thankfully, a friend of mine can discern what’s going on as well. Before we get to my friend’s discernment, some background.
I launched Christ Community Church’s Online Campus on February 5, and it has been a memorable ride so far. Before and after the launch, I often felt like I had tunnel vision to get the Online Campus up and running. I didn’t mind this because there was excitement with what the Online Campus would bring. I was an entrepreneur, a pioneer, and there was a rush with this new endeavor.
In the subsequent weeks since the launch, I’ve often felt like I’m in react mode. I’m learning so much, and I’m finding out some of my ideas and expectations of what would happen with the Online Campus are completely useless now. The mission hasn’t changed with it, but the path I thought I would take to accomplish that mission has changed. This has been good because it’s a factor in me reevaluating how to improve the effectiveness and experience of the Online Campus. Still, I’m reacting a lot.
Another reason for feeling like I’m in “react mode” is dealing with responsibilities I wasn’t planning on having to do. We had someone who was planning on managing the back-end of the Online Campus, but then they were pulled into another necessary project. This happens, and I had to cover. Who else was going to see this project through? I couldn’t just get anyone, on a whim, to do some of these tasks.
I had been doing these back-end tasks for over six months now. I’ve learned a lot, and it’s been helpful in me making the Online Campus better. After the high of a successful Online Campus launch, the grind of the day-to-day work started to become evident. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get the Online Campus off the ground, but it started to become wearying. It seemed the back-end tasks were dominating more of my time and focus, and it seemed like “the tail was wagging the dog”.
I was also starting to be more aware of numerical indicators, with the Online Campus, that were somewhat outside my control. Instead of hunkering down and pursuing the mission, I was letting a small sample size infect my thinking in a negative way. I knew better. I know it takes time to build something that will last. I’ve shared this to others when it comes to relationships, projects and social media. Still, I forgot to heed my advice by worrying.

These were some of the factors, along with my family and I being sick throughout January, February and March, wore me down. The mission of why I launched the Online Campus, and was an Online Campus Pastor, seemed to be pushed aside. Yes, I know there are busy seasons and we have to get our hands dirty to get things done that are our passion. However, something else was creeping in as I lost sight of the mission. Despair.

Even saying the word “despair” seems over the top. However, in those moments it seemed like I was always going to be managing back-end Online Campus tasks. I was going to be doing responsibilities that took me away from why I developed and launched the Online Campus. I know those responsibilities are vital, but after six plus months I thought and felt they were taking me away from the mission. I was into this to make a difference in the lives of people, and make a difference in the community.

When I prayed about all this, there was frustration creeping into my prayers. When I sat down to write, all I could think about was this reality. I didn’t want to write about anything. When I was home, I just wanted to be with my family and do nothing else. Jana often listened to me and prayed for me. She is great, and was there for me no matter what.

I should reiterate no one at CCC was trying to stymie me. I work with a great team. I had been talking to people about this. However, I didn’t even realize the frustration I was dealing with until I was almost drowning in it.*

*Seriously, anyone who thinks pastors have it together just needs to read some of my posts.

Recently, I went out to lunch with Doug Stevens. Doug is a friend of mine who works at Coram Deo. We were each sharing with each other about things going on in each other’s lives, but I had been withholding a bit about the recent grind with the Online Campus. We’re seemingly near the end of our lunch conversation, when Doug says to me, “You look tired, Robert.” I can’t hide anything from Doug. He seems to discern what is going on within me, and says the appropriate thing to address it whether he realizes it or not.

I proceeded to share about what I had been thinking and feeling. Doug didn’t have a response that magically fixed everything, but it was good for me to talk with him about it. Just talking to him seemed to lift a weight off my shoulders. Hard to explain how, but it did.

I threw myself back into my work. While I was still managing back-end tasks, for the time being, I doubled down on my efforts to interact with people outside the church. It reminded me why I was doing what I was doing, and it made it easier to manage the back-end of the Online Campus. It was refreshing.

I reminded myself the Online Campus is going to take time to establish and grow. I tuned out those who thought it would be an instant success and/or wonder why it’s not “bigger” at the moment.

I shared stories about the good taking place with the Online Campus.

My leaders knew about the dilemma of trying to manage the back-end Online Campus tasks and do everything else I was tasked to do. We were trying to figure out a solution.* I think we have come up with a solution, though, which helps everyone out.**

*Contrary to what some may think about megachurches, like Christ Community Church, we can’t just cut a check and get whatever we’d like.

**One thing this process has reinforced to me is the need to recruit and develop volunteers. Some leaders have different approaches to volunteers, and how it relates to your work. Lead Pastor Mark encouraged me on this front with the vision he has to engage volunteers in the work and community.

One reason I had been hesitant before to recruit volunteers because I wasn’t entirely sure what I would need with the Online Campus. Almost three months in now and I have a better idea of what it does take. I’m a bit more proactive now in talking to people about joining the Online Campus Team.

Life is good. So now what?

Well, one thing is I’m back to writing. I want to write again. I have a backlog of posts to get to, including a plethora of The RID Project posts.

I have to remind myself, with work, I can’t do everything in a day. I have to leave some stuff unfinished, and just chip away at things one day at a time. I know this, and I believe I’ve said this before on the blog, but I still have to be reminded about it.

I keep coming back to the mission of the Online Campus. What it will take to accomplish the mission may look different than what I expected. I need to be open to it being different than how I expected all this to happen. If my own personal desires get in the way of the mission, if I get in the way of helping people out with the Online Campus, then I am missing the point.

I’m grateful for friends, like Doug, who have listened to me throughout the past few weeks. I think of guys like Dusty Reynolds, Jeff Slobotski, and more who probably don’t even know how their conversations and friendships have encouraged me lately.

I’m also grateful for coworkers, like Steve Walters and Klint Bitter, who can listen and offer insight. Steve was great. He came into my office one day and I just unloaded. He leaned against the wall, nodded a lot, said a few words, and then prayed for me. Brilliant. I appreciated him letting me vent.

And, of course, my family is awesome. Jana and the boys can bring a smile to my face when I don’t think anything can. They love me no matter what.

I’m making sure my spiritual health is good, focusing in on Jesus. It’s easy for frustration and despair to creep in, and before you know it you are entangled in it. There will be tough times, but I don’t need to let it dictate my work and temperament. I think of something Jesus said.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

The world around us is in need. People are hurting and carrying shame. There is violence, injustice and poverty. They are looking for help…looking for hope. I need to love them and be on mission, but I need to make sure I’m taking care of myself as well. I don’t do anyone any favors when I burn myself out. I don’t do my family any favors when I figuratively sacrifice them for ministry’s sake. I need to take care of myself so I can be the best husband and dad.

Most importantly, I need to keep following Jesus. When I trip up and fall down, I need to dust myself off and get back up. When I wander off the path, I just need to get my bearings and get back on the right path.

I’ve been tired, but I’m awake again.

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