My wife Tiffany and I have been married for 16 years. In the past 16 years we have moved 11 times. Just the other day, as we are beginning to pack up for our 12th move, my wife says to me before bed, “Did you know that every move we’ve ever made except for one time, we have never been able to just move into a house? We have always had to move at least a portion of our stuff into a storage unit while we lived somewhere temporary.” I wish this time was different. As we are staring down the barrel of our 12th move, we are just about to buy a 5th wheel camper for our “temporary permanent home”. (Do I have a truck that can pull a 5th wheel camper? No. Those details will come together.) The majority of our belongings are currently getting packed up in storage tubs and are being ready to put into storage for the foreseeable future. If you’re thinking, “Are you all crazy!?!?!?” Our answer to you might just be ‘yes’. But we are definitely living and walking by Faith in Christ.
Moving is hard. Moving from a 1900+ sq. ft. home to a camper is definitely not without its challenges. But, I think the thing that makes this move even harder is because we are currently serving at a great church. The list of things I have come up with below are a list of reasons why it may be hard for a pastor to leave a great church. This is NOT an exhaustive list. It’s just a few reasons why it is (sometimes) hard to make a step out in Faith to go where God is leading.
- The people. For many pastors, this might be the #1 reason why they would leave a specific location. But this is the exact opposite for us. The church that we are currently serving is filled with some of the most gracious and loving people I have had the pleasure of serving. No, this church isn’t perfect and the people aren’t always easy to serve. But, if you’re a pastor and you are at THE perfect church, watch your back. Leaving these people is proving harder than any other place we have served in the past mainly because they care. I have been asked many times if I need help. They want me to do and to be well in ministry.
- Support. Since the time we made it public that we would be leaving, these people have been nothing short of amazing in their support. Our time here has only lasted 25 months. While the people are sad to see us go, they have been very supportive in our step of faith. Recently, our church board talked about ways in which the church could help make our transition smooth. They are making it a possibility for the congregation to contribute to Restoration Farm. On top of that, the board is also allowing me to keep the laptop the church bought shortly after I got here. If you’re thinking that this is commonplace in churches to let pastors keep things like this, you are mistaken.
- Love. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes it harder for a pastor to leave than love. When you feel loved, you feel the utmost support and energy to keep going and it’s “easier” to serve others. The level of love that we have felt while we have been here makes these bitter cold days in the winter feel like a walk in the park on a cool summer afternoon. Ok, that was a lie. Winters in the Cleveland area with a north or northwestern wind off of Lake Erie are, at times, brutal on your skin. But, the moment you walk into the doors of our church on a Sunday, the sting of the winter wind teamed with the snowflakes that feel like ice missiles hitting your face are quickly forgotten and the love you feel from the people here warms the soul.
- Care. At our church we have a Pastoral Care Team. This team of people have a mission. Their mission is to help the pastors and their families feel loved, appreciated and cared for. The extent of their mission isn’t just to the pastors and families that are currently serving/attending our church. Long before we made the move to this church, we received birthday cards for my wife, myself and our boys and anniversary cards… every single time. If something happened to our extended family, we got a sympathy card from this team of people too. Again, that was happening BEFORE moving here. These people care. They make it easy to serve them.
- Gifts. I put this at the bottom of this short list for a reason. Physical gifts are nice but they aren’t a main reason pastors keep going or feel loved. But, every once in a while, it is nice to receive something as a reminder that you are loved. In our relatively short time here we have received gifts of food, gift cards, cards, free baby sitting and the occasional cash gift. If you have ever served at a place where they didn’t do things like that (and we have) you know that those gifts are definitely blessings when they come. We have loved and appreciated the timing of each of the gifts we have received.
There are many other reasons that make it difficult for a pastor to say goodbye, pack their things and leave and these are just a few. We also know that in our new role, these things that we have felt and received will not come so frequently. We are not out to get or receive anything. But like I said, it does make it easier to keep going. We do know the value of the way those things make us feel and that is part of what drives us to want to start something like Restoration Farm for those who may be serving in the toughest spot they’ve ever been. We know that not everyone out there has the opportunity to be loved and cared for the way that we have. If that is you and you feel like you are on the verge of giving up, throwing in the towel and walking away from your calling, allow me to remind you that our God is greater than our circumstance. If you are ready to walk away from church ministry because you feel like every church is like the one you’re in now, I want to remind you of a few things:
— John 16:33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We have never been told that things will be easy. But we’re reminded that we should follow after and cling to the one who has overcome the world. Troubles and problems WILL come. Take heart!
— “There’s life after hell.” Those are the words of a pastor who is a dear friend and mentor of mine who is now serving in a life giving church after serving in one that almost cost him his life. Not all churches and people are the same. There are good churches out there that are looking for good pastors. There are also good churches out there that can and will nurse you back to full health in ministry. They want what’s best for you and they are out there.
— We’re praying for you. I know that sounds a little cliché but it’s the truth. My wife, myself and the other pastors and friends that we have are praying for your health and wellness in ministry. We know that Restoration Farm can’t come soon enough for some of you. We are praying that God will provide a way for you to be an overcomer in your current situation. We are also praying that He will provide a way for us to make this dream of Restoration Farm into a reality that blesses others. We. Are. Praying.
I have been asked to keep people updated on the changes in our lives as we begin this transition. As a way to do that, on top of trying to write things here, I have a way for you to see some of the things we will be doing. A long time ago I started a YouTube channel called “Paul’s Fix All”. I worked on things like cars, trucks, lawn mowers and different things around the house. Recently I changed the name of the channel to “Restoration Farmer”. If you would like to keep up on some things we will be doing on the farm and some ways in which we will be working towards making Restoration Farm a reality, go to YouTube and search Restoration Farmer. Or click HERE , like and subscribe to the channel and we will do our best to upload more visual aspects there. I will also do my best to write some of the things that are on my heart here, but the YouTube option will be more of a visual and maybe an entertaining way to see what we’re doing.
Lord, today there are a lot of things in my life that I am grateful for. The places you have taken me and the ways in which you have provided are nothing short of amazing. Thank you for the people in past churches who have poured into our family but especially those here at Bedford Naz who have overflowed our cup in all the ways I mentioned above and in so many others! In the next few weeks, things for my family and I will be very stressful. We have sold our house in order to pursue and follow after you. We have no place to live yet. We are 2 weeks from the closing date of our home and to be honest, it’s a little stressful not knowing where we will live. But Lord, you are faithful and you are good. Failure is not an option for you and the word fail isn’t even in your vocabulary. So many times, the father of lies would like me and so many others to believe what you’ve asked us to do is impossible. So, today I am asking for your provision for my family and those pastors and servants who are out there doing what you’ve called them to do. Give us your strength. Give us your wisdom and give us your blessing. Our desire is to follow after you and in the process to become more like you. Help us Lord. We need You! Amen.