Before I tell you how to get from here to there, let me share how I got from there to here:
- My first job (besides mowing lawns) was working in a print shop helping to prepare orders and assist with delivery. All I can remember is that I despised the collating machine.
- Then, I took a promotion with Sears. I sold men’s clothing. It’s hilarious to think that I used to measure old men for lame suits.
- The two summers after I graduated from high school (1987-88), I worked on the local golf course. My job included mowing greens, cutting new cups and lots of weed-eating.
- While I was in college getting my business degree (in 1989), I commuted about 90 minutes between school and home to be the program manager of a litter prevention and recycling program for the City of Piqua, Ohio. I was the “Litter Czar.”
- For a couple of years (1990-91) while I was wrapping up my undergraduate degree and getting my Master of Public Administration degree, I worked as an intern in the city manager’s office for the City of Northwood, Ohio.
- After graduating from Bowling Green State University in 1992 (Go Falcons!), I took a job as an administrative assistant in the city manager’s office in Galesburg, Illinois. I was primarily responsible for human resources functions including facilitation of labor negotiations. To this day, I’m not a big fan of unions.
- In 1994, I became the city manager of Knoxville, Iowa. I was only 25 at the time. It’s really pretty crazy when you think about it. At that age, I was responsible for leading the police, fire, streets, parks, finance departments, etc. Now you know why I’m committed to raising up and empowering young leaders.
- Early in 1998, we moved to Niles, Michigan. The City of Niles hired me to lead a staff team of about 150 people and manage about a $20 million budget. And, among other things, we started attending Granger Community Church near South Bend, Indiana.
- Later that same year, I responded to a job ad with Granger for an office manager position. Eventually, I was hired to be the Pastor of Administrative Services. I took a huge pay cut. I also gave up the car allowance and the country club membership. I had a couple of people on my new staff team, and Tim didn’t let me spend very much money. He did, however, buy me lunch at Taco Bell from time to time.
- I worked at Granger for over eight years before God and Perry convinced me to move to NewSpring (early 2007) where I became the Chief Strategic Officer. I still don’t have that golf membership, but I do get to eat free ice cream whenever I want from the staff break room.
So, as you can see, it took about 12 years in various marketplace roles before God transitioned me into ministry. And, it’s taken me not quite 10 years in ministry to get to the place where I am today.
Why am I sharing this? I got an email message from Jeff this week. He had this to say:
“When it comes to young leaders, its easy to look up to someone like you and want to be like you right NOW. Sometimes we lose focus on all of the cumulative life things that have made you into the person you are and to be in the ministry position that you are in. It would be insightful to get a glimpse into your mid-twenties to current. You know–what kinds of jobs you were working? What major formative experiences did you have? I think it would help young leaders look at someone like you and remember that there is much to be learned along the way and that, generally, having leadership positions like you have is something that is in our future instead of thinking that we should expect it NOW.”
Jeff, you appear to be wise beyond your years. You are right. Back in the mid-80s while I was operating that collating machine, I could not have done what I’m doing now. And, while I sit here typing this blog post, I’m probably not prepared for what God has in store for my future.
Your message reminded me of all the times I’ve heard Mark Beeson and Perry talk about life being a series of next steps. We need to be faithful and disciplined about whatever the next step is in our lives that God has for us. If we do that, then years from now we’ll be able to look back and celebrate what God accomplished in us. It all begins with remaining faithful and diligent where God has us today.
What does God want you to do in this moment? Do that. That’s how you get from here to there.