156. Not counting interns, contract workers, and nursery workers, there have been 156 staff that have come and gone since Steve Walters first started working at Christ Community Church over seventeen years ago. One five six.
I’ve seen my fair share of staff come and go since I started out as a contract worker in April of 2005. A few of them even burned brightly. Fellow Generation X types. They appeared on the scene, and postured as the future of the Church. They…We talked as if we knew everything, even though we didn’t have a clue. “Just wait till our time comes.”* All the while, there’s Steve Walters faithfully serving. It was never about “being the show” with Steve. It was about serving God. Serving others. Serving the staff.
*This deserves its own post, but not today.
A number of us Gen X types either moved on, got a dose of reality with experience, grew up, were humbled, or experienced a number of those things at various points. Steve was a friend to us all. Older and wiser, he was never condescending toward us when it would have been well within his right as he saw a bunch of young bucks were preening about how much we allegedly knew about Jesus and the Church (while insulting previous generations).*
Why am I saying this? Because I think Steve Walters is underrated. In our current Evangelical Christian culture, there’s a pressure for pastors/leaders to be “rock stars”. Look the part. Dress the part. Sound the part.
Be the part? Not exactly, and yet we need more pastors to BE pastors. We need more leaders to BE leaders. Writing books and going on the conference circuit to speak means less to me if you don’t have a life that reflects Jesus. If you’re away from your family and church all the time, what kind of pastor/leader are you? So what if you have a slick presentation and soundbites, do you have proven ministry experience to back it up?
A segment of today’s church leaders want the glory without the gory. They want to lead churches without having to deal with the people in their church. Part of me wants to shake them and say, “You do realize you are a PASTOR, right?” All glory, no gory.
Steve Walters dealt with the gory details of individuals’ lives. Addiction. Abuse. Dysfunction. Brokenness. He waded into the darkness of others and did everything he could to lead people into the light…into freedom.
I saw this with my own life. When I finally came clean about my porn addiction, the first person I called was Steve Walters. I knew I could trust him. I knew he’d be there for me. I didn’t even know Steve all that well at the time, but the way he went about his life and work exemplified the Gospel. I knew he was the one person I could go to.
My marriage and job were on the line. If I’m dealing with that, I don’t need someone who only has theory, snark and/or cynicism. I needed someone who would be there for me, be willing to get his hands dirty and walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death.
Steve exemplified this verse from Proverbs:
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. -Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)
He was always there for me. Always. Since July 2007, when I came clean, we’ve had numerous informal conversations where he spoke into my life. Going through recovery was difficult. Not necessarily because of the changes I had to make in my life to beat the addiction, but people’s adverse responses to those changes I made. Steve would be there to listen to me, and keep encouraging me to do the right thing. He didn’t want me to simply rearrange the deck chairs as the boat sank, thus making others feel better. He wanted me to make sure I, and my family, were “saved”.
Steve also let me shadow him as I took on more pastoral responsibilities at the church. He coached me on hospital visitations, on-call pastoral situations, funeral services, weddings, baby dedications and much more. Countless times I crashed his office when needing wisdom about some situation I was trying to pastor. When I was sensing the call to step out in a new ministry role, Steve championed my cause. I’m not sure too many saw me as a Campus Pastor back then, but Steve did. He believed in me.
We need more people like Steve Walters. We need more men, husbands, dads, pastors, leaders like Steve. The Church, and the world we are called to love and serve, needs more people in the mold of Steve Walters, and less arrogant, unproven leaders who are more concerned about their personal brand/cultural awareness at the expense of people they are supposed to serve.
Steve is loving and faithful to Jesus, his family and the community he is called to. I hope the same can be said of me in the future.
(Watch a video where I sit down with Steve Walters and we reflect on his time at CCC.)