The End of a Season: An interview with Pastor Jared

Over the last 12 months I’ve had many surprising conversations. Conversations I never thought I would have. Conversations with God, talks with Katrina, dialogues with Pastor Dean , and eventually several heart-to-hearts with my own insecurities and doubts. All these conversations culminated in me recently resigning from Rock Family Church. My heart is broken because I thought this was where I was going to serve for the next 20 years. That was my plan. And I would have had God not spoken. But he spoke. And I must be obedient. I understand this feels abrupt, but I assure you it wasn’t. I’ve been negotiating with God on this since December of 2011 and negotiations stalled this past June. In an effort to help give clarity, I took part in an interview and the following is what transpired:

Insecure Jared: “I heard you resigned recently from your position at Rock Family Church. Can you elaborate on that?”

Pastor Jared: “I did. As cliche as it may sound, I feel as though God said to. I’m not sure what the future holds for us, but my family and I have every assurance that things will be great.”

Insecure Jared: “That sounds fun. I’m sure everyone would like to just quit their jobs in the worst economy since the Babylonian Exile and prance around the country in their pop-up camper with their 3 children…one being an infant.”

Pastor Jared: “It’s funny, because when you’re in the ministry you are supposed to be Spirit led. Until it doesn’t quite make sense. Then you’re supposed to screw the Spirit and do something that makes sense to everyone around you. It’s why I chuckle a little on the inside because these two ideas are very much juxtaposed to one another. As if I ever had a plan to begin with…”

Insecure Jared: “I’m slightly offended by the phrase ‘Screw the Spirit’.”

Pastor Jared: “I don’t know how else to articulate it…stiff arm the Spirit? Ignore the Spirit? I’ll stick with the first one.”

Insecure Jared: “So what is your plan?”

Pastor Jared: “No, that’s what I’m saying. I don’t have a plan. Or I should say I don’t have my plan. There is a big difference here. Can I give a couple analogies that might help clarify? One would be that I feel God is painting me a picture—or painting a picture of me—and I’m sitting awkwardly in my chair as God says, ‘tilt your chin up’ or ‘sweep your curls off to the right of your face.’ And I’m sitting here waiting to see the picture, but I have to posture myself for it to be finished. Does that make sense? Or here’s one that I like better; It feels as though God has dumped a bunch of construction material on my front yard and has said ‘I’m going to build something for you’ and I can describe the pieces that I see in my front yard, but I can’t describe what He’s planning to do with it. Do either one of these make sense?”

Insecure Jared: “Not really. But help alleviate my curiosity and describe the building materials you see in your front yard.”

Pastor Jared: “There has been a tectonic shifting within my heart the last year or so. Not in a bad way, but in a very great way. I’ve grown in love with the church—I think I’m starting to see how God sees people. I think a few of the long wide beams sitting in the middle of my yard are made up of this love for the church. Next, I’m transfixed with the pastoral vocation and the idea that we as pastors are custodians of the Kingdom life—and have been for over two millennia. We call people farther in and higher up in a relationship with God. It makes me excited to see these old worn beams in my yard—to use what others have used before me. On the other side of the yard I can see the straight long boards of my writings and musings stacked up tall. There is quite a bit more of this than I would have expected. Next to that is a small mound of brown paper bags wrinkled with the weight of nails and pins, lag bolts and nuts. These are my music, my creations, my quiet moments with just God and me—the things that seemingly will bind all this together. There is a myriad of other material piled around the yard. Some in complete order, others in disarray, but I doubt not for a second that what is going to be built with these things, this clutter of love and passion, is going to be beautiful. It will be radiant. And it will be awkward at first. But as layers are added upon layers, God will continue building what he has always wanted to build. Me.”

Insecure Jared: “I almost got a tear in my eye. We’ve been getting a little emotional lately, haven’t we?”

Pastor Jared: “I have these moments where I’m completely overwhelmed with hope. I’m overwhelmed with a sense of it’s-all-coming-together. It’s hard to describe, but do you remember the moment when you first saw your child being born and it completely wiped away every care of the world. Everything else became so utterly insignificant. Nothing else mattered. And in the same way, it feels like God every so often gives me babies of hope. Hope of future. Hope of goodness. Little hope babies. I’m an emotional fool when this happens.”

Insecure Jared: “Do you ever find people just staring at you in bewilderment as you talk? When most people speak or write, they go from one linear thought to the next. You are more like a carnival ride that makes small children puke.”

Pastor Jared: “So, I’ve felt God say something to me. I was driving down I-25, praying about our future, and I heard in response, “you cannot embrace what I have for you until you let go of where you are now.” There’s a deeper storyline to this one, but I’ll leave it generic for now. So, I assumed what God said as an attitudinal issue. Something along the lines of “you have to be just as willing to stay as you are to go”. I adjusted my attitude and said, “there, God. I’m ready.” But He said no and reminded me to let go. And let go means let go. What came to mind was the story of when Jesus was walking along the beach in Matthew chapter 4 and he saw Simon and Andrew. He told them, “follow me, I’ll make you fishers of men.” It then says, “they didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed.” What a bunch of fools, I thought. What are they going to do with their nets? Is someone going to steal their boat? At least sell the boat before you go. Take a little cash with you on the road. How are they going to make a living? Are they married? They can’t do that to their families. It’s irresponsible. It’s foolish. It’s unwise. You can’t just give up everything! But they did. They obviously saw value…”

Insecure Jared: “Are you saying you just want to give up everything?”

Pastor Jared: “I figure what I have now isn’t worth missing what God has for me. I want—with everything within me—for my sons to know what it looks like to hear and obey God. I need my daughter to know what kind of man it is that listens and reacts. I need my wife to know that I seek and respond to the heart of God.”

Insecure Jared: “But what you’re talking about is a big deal. You’re walking away from a comfortable home, salary, health insurance, and security for…for what exactly?”

Pastor Jared: “The Kingdom life…haha. It sounds stupid saying it because it is such an abstract thing. But in Matthew chapter 11, Jesus tells two short parables of the pearl merchant and of the trespasser who both found items of great worth and went and sold everything to purchase these things. Often we get stuck on the sacrifice—the fact that the Kingdom of God is going to demand everything from us. This is what caught the rich young ruler off guard. But at the end of the story there’s a pearl of great value! There’s a treasure hidden in the field! I want to make sure I’m pursuing God’s treasure in my life.”

Insecure Jared: “So you’re one of those prosperity guys?”

Pastor Jared: “I feel like God is really pro-people. Did he kill his son so he could just yell angrily at us? No. If we were worth the slaughtering of his son so that we could have relationship again, why would he all of a sudden stop his generosity? I think there is a very interesting thread sewn throughout scripture of God’s goodness to people.”

Insecure Jared: “Like his goodness to Sodom and Gommorah?”

Pastor Jared: “No, like in his goodness to Ninevah. His surprising-goodness. The goodness that catches us off guard. His surprising-salvation. His salvation takes on so many different shades and shapes—it’s worked into every aspect of our lives. A few years ago God healed me of warts on the bottom of my feet. It was such a miniscule issue to me, but God thought otherwise. That was really eye opening and surprising to watch those stupid warts dry up and fall off. Or sometimes when I go into Starbucks the baristas give me free coffee and the thought comes of, ‘If he can be so great in the tiniest of things, how much more does he care about the big things—or forget the big things, how much does he care about everything?’ I can see his holistic salvation being worked out in me and it’s a very cool experience.”

Insecure Jared: “With this transition you are embarking on, do you see it as an act of salvation for you?”

Pastor Jared: “I do. But it isn’t a topic I’m comfortable discussing only because I don’t want it to come off as though I’m escaping something or being rescued from something. I’m not Israel leaving Egypt. I’m Israel moving into Canaan. I don’t want this to be a judgement on Rock Family Church or where I’ve been personally for the last 10 years or so—because it has nothing to do with where I’ve been. I think some people will let their minds wander into grey areas on this because they want concrete answers and there are none right now. There is an amazing lack of drama in this transition. Pastor Dean and I remain close and he has been gracious in giving room for God to work out his plan in me. He’s been a treasured friend through this. All this is is God working his plan out in me and through me.”

Insecure Jared: “Shouldn’t you have a job lined up by now?”

Pastor Jared: “There’s a lot of people who would like to know the answer to that. I’m one of them. Things have always just happened to work out for us in a very spectacular way. If I am just going off of past experience, things will be fine. If I add to that what God is calling me to, things will be overwhelmingly fantastic.”

Insecure Jared: “So that’s it? Just quit your job, travel around, and wait for God to unfold his popup book of surprises for you? You understand how crazy that sounds, right?”

Pastor Jared: “I wish I had more to say. But, I don’t. I always wondered what would happen if I gave everything over to God. If I left my nets at the shore and just followed him. The thing that brings a smile to my face is that I’m about to find out what happens. It feels like a great adventure.”

Insecure Jared: “That’s very Oregon Trail-ishy of you. One last thing. Did I hear a rumor about Alaska?”

Pastor Jared: “You’ll have to talk to me off the record about that one…but my family and I have entitled this next phase of our life, ‘Yukon, Ho!’ after the Calvin and Hobbes comic book. We think it fits for us as a family. ”

Insecure Jared: “I just want it on record that I think you’re irresponsible and crazy. But nonetheless, Godspeed.”

Pastor Jared: “It’s been duly noted. Godspeed.”

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