The following has been adapted from the pastoral blurb in the Grassroots’ weekly newsletter.
Well, I’ve started in this new role as your full time pastor. This past Sunday (Aug 20th) was my first official day on the job and then throughout this week I’ve been knee deep in the good work that all this role entails. It’s been good – like “pinch me, this can’t be real” kind of good. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to use my gifts in this capacity and to be stretched toward new challenges as I serve with Grassroots.
I’ve been thinking about my outlook as I embark on this new venture. On the one hand I want to be realistic about the challenges that are before me/us so I don’t fall on my face a month in but perhaps even more important than this is to intentionally pursue a certain kind of naïveté about it all. What I mean is, I want to see the potential with our community, the potential to bring about and to embody the Kingdom of God as individuals and as a community and to not cloud that pursuit with the oftentimes challenging reality of a situation. I don’t want to have this hope clouded with my own natural pessimistic tendencies. And I’m writing this to you this week as a bit of a means of accountability: my default approach is to usually see the potential for failure and then to start reinforcing this with messages in my head that confirm it. Needless to say, that approach has not usually worked out. And so here I want to resist that. Not in a roll-your-eyes-Joel-Osteen kind of “actualize your potential” way that scoffs at reality but in naively hopeful way, riding the wave of potential as long as possible!🏄🏾
That said, this has to be a gentle naïveté. Like, I’m not an idiot. I can’t turn a blind eye to the reality of life and the brokenness around every corner – both outward and inward looking. It’s just that as Christians, there’s this hope that, let’s be honest, can definitely be construed as naïve in the context of the bleakness that life presents and yet it’s intentionally baked right into the very foundation of our identity and we’re expected and even called to live from a posture of naïveté as we do this Kingdom work. And so I guess what I’m saying is that as I start this new job, with all that could go wrong, I want to dwell on all that can go right and seek to be faithful to this part of our calling.
For me, resisting naiveté and embracing “being a realist” (or however you label the flipside of being naïve) is a point of pride – one that needs repenting of even. Because, like you, I don’t want to have the wool pulled over my eyes and I don’t want to be caught off guard. But perhaps unlike you, I’ve taken it a step further and have found some of my identity in always being quick to find out potential for pitfalls and avoid looking the fool. Truth is, more times than not this approach just provides needless worry and fear. If I’m honest, the naïve hope Jesus followers have has always been a beautiful concept in my mind but something in which I secretly hold at arms length, resisting it for fear it’ll make me blissfully unaware about life’s hardships. Still, I don’t want to abandon being a realist either. The Bible has much to say about gullibility – large swaths of Proverbs actually speak directly to this trait – but I don’t want to be duped into thinking that being naïve is all bad because it forms the very backbone of our faith.
I want to go against the grain of my natural tendencies and be a force for optimism in this role as your pastor by moving toward a posture of always seeing the potential for what can go right rather than what can go wrong but I also don’t want to be ignorant of reality. I want to learn to walk that line of gentle naiveté, or perhaps better said: to have simple trust regardless of outcome. And right now, Grassroots Church has incredible potential and possibility. There is so, so, so much to get excited about! I hope you can see it as well but if you can’t and the challenges that are before our community seem just too daunting, first of all, go easy on yourself. Second, let’s chat about it. Seriously, connect with me and let’s see if we can’t arrive at a healthier perspective together that honours our calling as hope-filled Jesus followers.