relax already

 WARNING: this post is bluntly honest, but i’m not looking for your sympathy or affirmation, so don’t give me any, okay?

i beat myself up a lot. probably doesn’t show ’cause it’s all on the inside. but if you know me well, if you hang out with me long enough for me to get really transparent with you, you’ll hear it. maybe you do it too. funny thing on my end though – i know all about God’s grace, and think i can teach it with the best of them, but i have a tough time receiving it myself. i’ll bet a therapist would tell me that i must have had a parent that was hard to please. i don’t think so. or maybe i’m just one of the those over-achievers. puh-leez. my resume wouldn’t bear that out either. if anything, i think i just long to hear the heavenly Father say, “well done good and faithful servant.” and for some reason, i just have trouble hearing that.

one of the things i beat myself up most about is that threshold isn’t reaching and drawing nearly as many people as i would expect or desire. i mean c’mon, you and i know what an awesome community THD is, so why aren’t more people coming or receiving Christ or growing in faith or serving or whatever??? maybe if i were a better teacher, a better leader, a clearer visionary, a stronger get-er-done-er, or whatever…
this afternoon i was at starbucks with mike moses, lead pastor of lake forest church in huntersville (lake forest is a sister church of ours, both churches intentionally planted by the same mother church. after ten years, they welcome about 2400 people to worship every sunday). after almost two hours of shop-talk, and of unloading my feelings of inadequacies on him, i asked him: “mike, you know how to grow a church. you know me. you know threshold. if you were gonna give me some advice right now, what would it be?”  then i sat back and waited for something challenging. something i knew i was incapable of. one more thing to make me feel inadequate.
what my friend mike said (and how he said it) was one of the greatest blessings i have received in a long time. he said this: “jeff, first i would tell you that what you guys have done at threshold in just five years is an amazing thing. you have created a church where people come to Christ, a church that feeds the homeless, a church that is already serving in other parts of the world, a church that is so creative and special. i hope you are celebrating that.” and not only did he tell me that, he was choked up. tears almost came to his eyes. and mike’s no baby.
“why the emotion?,” i asked him.
“because i get emotional at the sight of beauty, and threshold is a beautiful bride of Christ,” he said.
wow. well said. 
and shame on me for thinking or believing anything otherwise. of course, it wasn’t just me. it’s also been all of you. through us, God really has done something very special in outfitting a very beautiful bride for his Son.
as i reflect on mike’s words now, i want to share two things with you:
1. thanks. thanks for being my family and my partners in extending the kingdom of God’s grace and mercy. threshold is an amazing and creative and beautiful family, and i am most honored and humbled to be your pastor. for your friendship, and your trust, and your co-laboring with me as the body of Christ, i can’t thank you enough. well done, good and faithful servants.
2. if you beat yourself up like i do, quit it. step back and remember that you, too, are a beautiful child of God. there is no one like you, and God had everything to do with that. everything. you are unique and talented and special and loved and cared for and forgiven. right now, stop and celebrate that fact. when God looks at you or even thinks of you, He gets all emotional. you can bring up all the reasons why He doesn’t or couldn’t or shouldn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that He does. so relax already. listen to almighty God remind you that you rock His world. 
’cause you do.
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