A month ago, Sophie and I shared the news that I accepted a job as the D-Groups Pastor at Long Hollow Church and joined the Training Team with Replicate Ministries. This decision has been the hardest decision of our lives as we uproot from a place we love and move away from friends, family, and a church that means the world to us. (We share our gratitude and love for The Chapel in this video.) Along with the sadness of leaving, we are excited and honored to serve at Long Hollow and start this new adventure in the Nashville area.
The transition process has been difficult, but sweet. I greatly underestimated the breadth and depth of emotions that come with transitioning from a place you love so deeply. I have felt excitement, sadness, peace, turmoil, curiosity, cynicism, courage, fear, and much more. Through all of the pain and celebration, God has lovingly given me three lessons that I am reminding myself of daily.
God cares more about who I am becoming than where I am going.
Throughout the decision-making process, I prayed for God to show me which choice I needed to make. I wanted a clear sign that said, “God’s will is that you go this way…” One morning as I was praying, I felt God impress on me the statement above: I care more about who you are becoming than where you are going.
I was so caught up on trying to decide what was God’s will for me in this specific situation, that I lost sight of what his will for my life is: “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified… 1 Thes. 4:3″ God did care about my decision to stay or to go, but more importantly, he cared about how I was allowing him to use this decision to become more like Jesus.
That morning, my prayers shifted. I stopped asking God, “Where do you want me to go?” and I started asking, “How can I look more like Jesus through this process?” It was from that point, that God began to reveal personal idols in my life and refine me in many ways. It also is how he revealed to me the next two statements.
Why I make a decision is as important as what decision I make.
One night, I was discussing my situation with my good friend, Michael Rhodes, who said, “Whether you stay or you go, there are good and bad reasons for each decision. Whatever you decide, make sure the reason you do it honors God.” This advice greatly shaped my entire process. I started to inspect the myriad of emotions that surrounded my decision and ask, “What is motivating me?”
On my bad days, my selfish ambition was motivating me to be a hotshot in Nashville and my idols of comfort were begging me to stay in Baton Rouge where everything was familiar. On my good days, I wanted to step out in faith and go to Long Hollow because I truly felt God was calling us to go and I wanted to stay at The Chapel because I deeply love the people and believe that God is in the middle of doing something truly special here.
As I prayed through my misguided motivations, God stripped me of my selfish desires and replaced them with Godly ones (Psalms 37:4). He replaced my fear with faith and my selfish ambition with Godly ambition. Though this process was painful, it deepened my love for Jesus, increased my conviction of where God was calling us, and strengthened my faith to step out.
When evaluating the quality of my life, use the right scorecard.
After sharing the news of our decision, Sophie and I quickly felt the weight of all that we were leaving. We were moving over eight hours away. We would lose significant investments. We would both resign from jobs that we loved. We would leave a house that had a great back porch with an outdoor kitchen, a big backyard, a mother-in-law suite, and more. And yes…we would move far away from my hunting properties. When this became real, I immediately began to evaluate the decision and wondered if we had made a mistake.
Conveniently, our D-Group was memorizing Matthew 6:19-21:
19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
As I memorized and meditated on this verse, I realized that I was using the wrong scorecard to evaluate my life. What I valued was wrapped up in things of this earth, not heaven. Financial stability, family support, and hunting properties were good things, but they were all earthly treasures. I had elevated them above God’s call in our life and they had become idols of comfort.
As I mourned the loss of these earthly things I loved, Sophie reminded me, “There is no worse place to be than outside God’s will and there is no better place than to be within it.” The joy of following Christ and allowing him to use your gifts to further his kingdom is greater than anything this world can offer. Though I still get sad about some of the things that we are leaving, I continually ask myself, “Which scorecard am I using?”