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Monday, June 29, 2009

Stepping Down

In a world that prioritizes accomplishment, popularity and esteem, stories of those who willingly step down from such societal values can get lost in the shuffle. Here's my attempt to keep one in the light.

Many of you know the journey of my uncle John. For 6 and 1/2 years, John was the Senior Pastor of a large (several thousand in attendance) church in Oregon. In mid-October, John's body was attacked by a mysterious disease that left him first hospitalized and then under home-rest continuing to this day. The doctors are still puzzling over the what and why. We may never know.

Throughout this time, John's role as Senior Pastor was never doubted or questioned. He was in a sense "on Sabbatical" but no one debated whether or not he should keep this job. This past weekend, John announced at the weekend services that he was resigning from this post and taking a lesser title; part-time associate. I was not there, but the comments of those who were and have posted to his blog (http://www.salemalliance.org/serendipity/) lead me to believe it was a powerful moment.

I don't mention this to bring glory to John. I know he wouldn't want it. I don't mention this to suggest others should be renouncing position or influence. If God has put you there, then use it. But I am writing to illustrate what Jesus does in the heart of his people. It makes no sense to step down from a "lucrative" job with status, esteem and influence, even if you're on the sidelines. Culture tells us to hold on and enjoy the privilege life has brought you.

What John did, he did for the good of others. He saw a church that loved him and would never ask this of him, but that was perhaps being held back while waiting for their fearless leader to return in full strength. And so he released them to pursue God and wait on him alone.

What motivates us to do for others instead of only doing for ourselves? I believe that this is the transforming power of the Cross. Knowing Jesus isn't about a religion, but about a relationship that transforms us on the inside to be the kind of loving and giving people on the outside that God created us to be. Unfortunately, I believe, the world at large doesn't see this from Christians enough. Do they see it in me? Will they see it in you?

May you be the kind of person that esteems what God calls good, even if it runs against all that our culture holds true. Our culture will fade, but the kingdom of God will last forever.

Journey in His glory,

Nick

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