In the fall of 2006 I reached a breaking point. I was last person to admit I could no longer handle being a full time pastor, a full time “kidologist” (whatever that is!) – run a non-profit ministry while writing, speaking, training, etc. and be a husband and then over-night I became a father. Six months later I snapped. That is over-simplifying the breakage that took place – but this is a public blog. But the Sunday after I resigned my pastorate and canceled all my speaking engagements and headed into what would be two years of healing and rebuilding my life from the inside out – I went to a board member and friends church ready to soak in instead of put out.
As though a conspiracy against my heart, the sermon series was tited “Out of Control.” Go figure. Who told them I was coming?
I talk in detail about this and its impact on me in the first Kidology Online Training video First Things First which many have told me has in turn impacted them. (Some have shared their feedback in the forum discussion for that video)
On the stage was a giant TV Remote control. Each button related to a sermon. Here is a QUICK overview getting to the point of this post:
Stop – Sabbath: Me? Guilty.
Fast Forward – Vision, living with the future in mind. Me? Oh, boy. I had that button stuck. All I used to talk about was Vision! I’m all about Vision, which is good, Great even! But I failed to live in TODAY. Guilty.
Reverse – Dealing with the past. Luckily, I got a break that week. This sermon dealt with dealing with childhood wounds and I had a wonderful childhood, and I really don’t have baggage there, so I was received. It was a good message, but I enjoyed a week of not feeling beat up.
Pause – Reflection – stopping to reflect on how is your walk with God is TODAY, your marriage, your relationship with kids, friends, etc. I was always about where I was going – I needed to plan periods to stop and ask, how are things right now? Guilty.
But the one that got me the worst – and that I didn’t see coming, and the point of this post, and the reason I am heading to Yosemite this week, and why my post says “Thank you Pastor Jeff Griffin” –
WAS PLAY: RECREATION. I totally did not see this one coming!
Pastor Jeff defined recreation as RE-CREATION. That which re-creates you.
Let me explain.
Up to that point, I had always said,
“I am so blessed that my occupation, my vocation and my recreation are all the same: children’s ministry!”
I couldn’t have been more wrong!
I mistook FUN for re-creation. It IS TRUE that children’s ministry is FUN – there is no more fun and enjoyable ministry than working with kids – but it doesn’t re-create me, it DRAINS ME! And I had been being drained for fifteen years.
This may come as a shocker to many who know me, but I am an introvert.
WHAT?!?!? But I am a public speaker and love to entertain and make people laugh and am comfortable in the spotlight. Yes, that is where my gifts and talents are – but I recharge and refresh and renew alone.
HERE’S THE POINT:
That Sunday Pastor Jeff challenged us to intentionally plan a way to be re-created explaining that this is the true nature of recreation. I leaned over to my wife, almost sarcastically, because at that moment, I thought his challenge was IMPOSSIBLE, and I said, almost bitterly, as I was so empty and drained and exhausted and hurt and in pain and said,
“The only way I could be re-created would be to go to Yosemite alone for several days with just my camera and worship music and be alone with God.”
Granted, in September 2006, I was in no place to do such a thing – but the seed was born and the idea took root and would not go away. A year later I got the courage to ask my wife seriously if she would let me pursue this dream, and she said if I would go with some other men. (She feared me falling off a cliff for the sake of a picture!) I also had shared with her that I knew I couldn’t be the only children’s pastor who needed this!
As a result, Yosemite Summit was born. Me and eight men have since gone twice. You can read and view pictures and video of the Summit of 2008 and 2009. If you need this event and can not afford it, a 100% scholarship has been given for this year.
But today, over four years after I heard that sermon, my dream of going alone for several days to Yosemite for a one on one with God in Yosemite is coming true.
I want to thank Pastor Jeff for that sermon. I also want to thank him for taking time with me for several meals and meeting during those two years of healing in Illinois. His grace, love, advice and belief in me was healing.
Some see me as some children’s ministry blogger or ‘guru’ or expert. Some have called me a ‘giant’ of children’s ministry – those words scare me. My other website may be giant, but I’m no giant. I’m a little man with huge flaws and I thank God for men like Pastor Jeff who saw only the man and who saw none the stuff around me and cared less about my ministry, and more about me and loved me into a new place of health and vitality that has equipped me for the next phase of life and serving God with new energy and perspective that is free from the old drive that while accomplished a lot, about killed me and my marriage.
I finally understand what it truly means to be dead to self, and alive in Christ.
Thanks Jeff – I’m in Yosemite this week, hangin’ with God because of you!