The Redemption of Being a Pastor Again

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“If it seems slow in coming, wait.

   It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”

Habakkuk 2:3, The Message

The Redemption of Being a Pastor Again

I was browsing Facebook one night a few months ago, when I got a message from and old friend, who was now on the Board for an extremely unconventional church plant in the middle of downtown Birmingham. (And when I say, “unconventional”, I mean a church that embraces our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. And doesn’t just ask them sit on the back row; they are the church.) “We’re looking for a worship pastor, and you are the only person I could think of for this job.”

This was the first time someone from a church wanted to take a chance on me in a leadership role in quite some time. I couldn’t believe I was even being considered. I wasn’t even their last resort! He thought I was perfect for the job. It was hard to imagine.

My life had imploded a few years ago, and the rubble I was sorting through was a hellacious mess. Four years earlier, I’d landed and lost my dream job in a matter of nine weeks. Not long after that, I was asked to step down from ministry. Every bit of approval I’d gained and every relationship I’d worked so hard to build was crumbling beneath my feet.

There were rumors and accusations, but the whole scenario was shrouded in mystery. My wife and I were left to play a guessing game with our future. It felt like buying a 1000-piece puzzle from a thrift shop, knowing there will likely be a piece or two missing. Try as you may, your imagination just can’t quite create the full picture.

When we left the pastor’s office that day and headed home, the ride seemed to drag on for eternity. The car was silent for a while, then suddenly, the dam broke. My wife’s questions and doubts began to flood the car with pain and white noise. The air felt so heavy I thought my lungs might actually forget how to expand and release. It was the first of several scattered moments throughout that time when I wanted to die.

After all of the pain and shame and humiliation from my suicide attempt, the dust began to settle. Eventually, I found safety and comfort in being hired back at my old job as an interpreter, thanks to a boss who is also a great friend and mentor. She believed in me when I had completely given up on myself.

And I thought that was it. I expected to work as hard as I could on regaining my mental composure and do my best to save my marriage, but I fully believed one day I would be served divorce papers. After that, I figured I would work as long as possible, and either die a lonely old man, or eventually try to kill myself a second time.

But God was whispering, [clickToTweet tweet="“If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.” #graceismessy via .@iamsteveaustin" quote="“If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”" theme="style3"]

As Habakkuk stood and surveyed the destruction all around him, he grumbled and griped, doubted and questioned. And the same God who patiently, carefully breathed hope and wonder back into Habakkuk’s soul was shepherding mine. The same God who told Habakkuk, “Even if I pulled back the Heavens and showed you the Master’s plan, you wouldn’t believe it.” That same God began to breathe on my tired and weary soul, promises that life could come again, in place of death.

The same God who breathed on dry bones believed in me. The God who is bigger than a whale’s belly gave me a second chance. The same God who told Lazarus to shake off the grave clothes whispered in my ear. The same exact God who had been anointed for death by a prostitute stood  in a hospital room with me the day I nearly died. God’s hand was on my chest, Hope pushing into my soul, whispering, “I’m not finished with you yet.”

“If it seems slow in coming, wait.

   It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”

I’m honored to be the worship pastor of a ragtag group of misfits and rebels. Ragamuffins who have been discarded, or at least overlooked by society, the Church, and many by their own families. But every single week, as we lift our voices to God, we proclaim the messiness of grace and the wonder of hope. We see the wideness of God’s mercy and we touch Heaven together.

So what’s it like, being a worship pastor again? It’s a perfect fit.