Vanessa

Stop. Collaborate and Listen.

Vanessa got home very late – after midnight – on Friday night from hanging out with some of her girlfriends. By 12:30, we had started into a discussion that we had been avoiding for several days. When I use the word “discussion,” I mean “fight.” 12:30 in the morning is a terrible time to start a fight, but it was one we needed to have, and there is no time like the present, I suppose. We talked until after 3:00 am. And then we picked up again on Saturday morning when we woke up.

By the early afternoon on Saturday, we had made a breakthrough. We were able to see things from the other’s perspective. We had a bit more empathy for the other’s feelings. And we had a game plan for some things we’re going to do differently going forward.   Read More…

Fundamorphosis Blog Tour – what my wife thinks

Today is maybe my favorite day in the Fundamorphosis Blog Tour. And that is because we are heading over to Happiness Is a Butterfly, my wife Vanessa’s blog.

Vanessa started blogging when we left Michigan and moved to Arkansas. The start of her blog coincides with the biggest upheaval caused by our fundamorphosis. Over the years, Vanessa’s blog has been a place of authentic and raw conversation. Sometimes she says things that make me cringe. But mostly she gets to the heart of the matter with beauty and grace. But … she hasn’t blogged much lately. I’m not sure why. I don’t think she knows either. Read More…

Whirlwind

I’ve been thinking about the past couple of weeks, and only one word is coming to mind – whirlwind.

Let’s recap what we’ve been up to:

  • I published a book. That’s kind of a big deal, right?
  • Vanessa and I took up all the tile in our kitchen. Well, mostly Vanessa because she’s just that awesome.
  • I did several media appearances. Though I haven’t been invited to be on The View yet. Read More…

The Heroes of My Story

I re-read my book Fundamorphosis: How I Left Fundamentalism But Didn’t Lose My Faith over the last couple of days. I had gotten the proof copy in the mail and wanted to go through it, looking one last time for typos and mistakes. I found several. It’s an imperfect book. I’m an imperfect person.

What struck me as I re-read my own story was the people along the way who have made such a difference in my life. They are the heroes of my story. They stood by me. They listened. They gave me counsel. They didn’t always agree with me, but they let me be myself.

I thought today I would pay tribute to some of them. Here’s to the heroes of my story. Read More…

Hope for the Depressed Pastor

On his blog today, Thom Rainer sites a Lifeway Research survey of pastors about depression and loneliness. What they found is that depression among the pastoral population is very common.

I didn’t need a survey to know this. I know this from experience.

I am often lonely and depressed as a pastor. Recently, Vanessa and I did some research into our personalities. We learned that people with my personality take criticism so personally that it can actually be paralyzing. It’s not that I don’t think criticism is helpful or valid. I do. But when criticism comes, it triggers something in me that makes me want to climb under the covers and stay there.

But when I think back on the most depressed and lonely I have ever been, it wasn’t necessarily criticism that sent me in that direction. It was the evolution of my theology that put me out of sync with my fundamentalist church upbringing.

I was pastoring a fundamentalist church in Michigan before we moved to Arkansas to start Vintage. Through a series of events – most notably, turning 30 and preaching through Genesis – I realized that I felt like I was wasting my life and spinning my wheels. I was faking it on Sunday mornings. I was pretending to be excited. I was pretending to believe the pat answers of fundamentalism. I was pretending to have all the answers.

This lack of authenticity sent me into a spiritual and emotional spiral that I didn’t pull out of for months. I credit the patience of Vanessa, the words of people like Brian McLaren, and the renewed hope of doing something risky like starting Vintage for helping me climb out of my hole.

There are a lot of reasons why we talk about authenticity so much at Vintage. I think, for instance, that faith requires authenticity. In other words, we can’t be Christians unless we are real. But I also push Vintage to be a place where people can be themselves because that’s what I need. When we started Vintage, I was fond of saying that I needed to pastor a church that I would go to even if I wasn’t be paid. I have to be authentic so that I don’t go back to that very dark place.

I’ve got a lot of sympathy for depressed pastors. I’ve been. I’m sure I’ll be there again. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess. And let us hold out hope for one another.

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