Project Manager for Messiah's North County Ministry, Greg Rhodes reflects on letting go of what no longer makes sense, and discovering deeper life in God.
At age 30 I accepted a promotion to run a new manufacturing plant. It was a bet-the-company move, tripling the size of the business with a new product line if it worked (and bankrupting the company if it did not). It was a big career move for me, and I had no idea how to run a manufacturing plant. (No, really.)
Two years later, with the plant at full speed and running per plan, I walked into our house and said to my wife, Heidi, "I have to quit my job. It's killing me."
Her immediate response: "Yes you do. It's killing both of us."
I had much invested in my title, my role, my status. I liked telling people what I had accomplished. I had achieved success by the "important" markers: title, responsibility, income. But it was killing me, and the ones I loved. I was good enough at the job to get the plant online and producing under some difficult circumstances (with help from many others). But it required me to be someone I was not. I quit with Heidi's agreement and no forward plan.
Leaving was hard; it felt like failure for a long time. I experienced loss and grief. I also immediately felt relieved and energized. Over time as I worked to reconnect with who God had created at my core, I alternated between a narrative of failure and a narrative of faith. The job change happened quickly; the personal transition took time, and honestly still continues. It has all been worth it. The new life that grows from the deepest part of me convinces me it has been worth it.
I think the journey of faith, individually and corporately, is like this: stripping away the non-essential so we can find our way back to God. I went to a conference at Luther Seminary a couple weeks ago, titled Reinventing Church, and one presenter put it this way: every 500 years or so the Church needs to hold a massive rummage sale, digging through the closets and chucking the things that no longer make sense, stripping away things we no longer need, recognize, or even remember acquiring. We have to ask: for what purpose did God make us? What's helping us accomplish that? What is no longer useful? What is actually getting in the way?
It can be hard work. Sometimes we have to let go of things we've grown to like, or even things we've used to define ourselves beyond God. But the promise is new life, deeper life in God. That's the journey we all travel, and that we travel together at Messiah.