IT’S NOT ABOUT ME

Wow! Where to start? First of all, I guess I should welcome you to my blog.   My goal through this avenue is to share my thoughts, hopes, dreams, and God moments with those willing to read. My wife has been begging me for years to use my (alleged) talents in writing to encourage people and to share a little bit about my journey of faith so I guess if after you read this you’re not impressed then you can blame her.

Or just blame me if you want.

It’s ok.

But for those willing to read on I guess the best place to start would be to share the heart of the biggest leap of faith I’ve ever taken in my life. Planting a church. In case you haven’t heart yet, here are the quick facts:

Yes, through much prayer my wife and I are planting a church in the North Macon area.

No, it’s not a quick decision. It’s actually years in the making.

Yes, I have stepped down as the Youth Pastor of Christ Chapel but will stay on through the end of July to keep commitments to the various camps and conferences I’ve already committed to.

Yes, the 4-½ years at Christ Chapel has been some of the best of my life with friendships (you know who you are) and memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

No, we will not start Sunday morning services at the new church immediately. We will spend the fall building up a launch team and then will kick off services January 22.

Yes, there are a variety of ways to find out more information about the church:

– You can check out this fancy promo video { LAUNCH VIDEO }

– You can locate our website www.radiantmacon.com

– Facebook? We got it1466198944_06-facebook

Twitter? We got that too.

1466198956_03-twitter

 IG? Again, yes.

1466198950_38-instagram

Snapchat? Maybe later…….

Now that I’ve gotten some of the details out of the way, let me share a story that I believe captures the heart of what Radiant Church, and this next phase in my life, is going to be about. I’ll admit it’s a little lengthy but it hopefully reveals my heart for this season. Read on if you dare…..

Rewind to the first week of June and I am wrapping up a short-term missions trip with my middle school students in Savannah, Georgia. We had spent the entire week doing various service projects throughout the community ranging from working at a local food bank to playing bingo with the elderly at a local nursing home. It was a great time with the teens but absolutely exhausting. We reached the last night of the trip and had just wrapped up a community cookout where we ate, played, and had one more night of fun with the new friends we had just made over the week. Toward the end of the evening, I found myself sitting on an outside bench alone, watching some teens play basketball. It was at that moment I began to do something that wasn’t healthy for me at all: I began to think.

Why would thinking be a bad thing?

Normally thinking is always a good thing. I mean, who would ever be thought less of for thinking? How has thinking ever hurt someone?   How could thinking ever be bad?

At that moment, for me, thinking wasn’t a good thing at all.

See, I knew that the very next day I would be packing up both my luggage and my teens and heading home. Once I got home it was time to prepare for the cookout at my house where my wife and I planned to tell our youth leaders that we were leaving the known and stepping into the unfamiliar. I knew once I told my leaders there was no going back. It was either plant a church or bust.

As I began to think about the plans I had for that weekend I wish I could tell you that I was full of confidence and faith. Faith in God for His plans for me. Confident that the God dreams I had prayed about for so long would work. Faith that these next step in my life would be a success.

The truth is that I wasn’t feeling confident at all. In that moment, sitting on that bench, I found myself dealing with feelings of doubt and insecurity.

Doubt about what God has spoken to me? Nope. I knew, without any hesitation, that God has spoken to my wife and I about planting a church.

Doubt that God was who he said he was? No way. I mean, He’s God right? Everything He sets in motion fulfills its purpose.

Doubt about me and my abilities? Yes! That was 100% the source of my doubt and confusion. As I sat there on that bench wave after wave of doubt crept in. I found myself wrestling with questions about my abilities and strengths. Questions like:

“What if we announce this church and people don’t take me seriously?”

“How could I ever lead someone. Much less a group of people?

“What if the church fails? I’ll be the only person from the rich heritage of Christ Chapel leaders who planted a church and it failed.”

“What if my kids won’t respect me during this process? Will my actions be the reason they grow up and shy away from church?”

“What if the finances don’t work out?”

“What if my wife sees me fail? What if I lose her respect?”

“How could I ever be as creative as this church I am following on Instagram?” (*Cough*   Elevation *Cough*)

“How will I be able to balance work, my personal faith, and my family?”

“Will I be able to take the vision that’s in my heart and turn it into an actual plan that can be executed on?”

“Am I too old to start a church? Most pastors who start one do so before their 35th birthday.”

Etc. Etc. Etc.

I sat there for a good 15 minutes and had my pity party. It wasn’t pretty in any way possible. The questions and doubts swirled in my head over and over and I found my mood becoming gloomier and gloomier. A couple of times I tried to stop the cycle of questioning that my mind was in only to start right back up with the questions. Over and over again they hit me. Over and over again I had no answers for them. On the outside I seemed just fine but on the inside I was a raging ball of doubt, insecurity, and faithlessness.

Then it hit me…….why don’t I go to God with these questions? Maybe He has something to say! (Yes, brilliant ideas come slow for me sometimes)

So I prayed. And I heard……………Silence.

I asked God to give me clarity. Nothing.

I begged God to take my insecurity away. Absolutely nothing happened.

I then became frustrated.   In my heart I told God, “This is where you normally come in and offer me some sort of encouragement to calm the storm in my emotions and in my thoughts. And you’ve given me nothing so far.”

And that’s when I saw it.

At that precise moment is when I saw it.

At the very moment I started complaining to God is when I saw His answer to me so loud and clear I couldn’t miss. Was His answer audible? Did I actually hear the voice of God?

No, it was louder than that.

A couple of minutes into my internal pity party a teenager had sat down on the bench in front of me. While she was completely unaware of what I was dealing with, God used her in a incredible way to speak to me. See, with the way she was sitting all I could see was the back of her shirt. Written on the back of her shirt was a very familiar bible scripture. Perhaps if you’ve been around the church long enough you’ve heard of it.

The verse is Matthew 20:28. It states – The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

At the very moment I read that verse on the back of the girl’s shirt, I broke. I started weeping and couldn’t stop.       I   Could     Not     Stop     Crying.

Why? Because in that moment I had the answer from God to all of the questions running through my mind. The answer was simple yet so profound:

It’s not about me.

Let me say that again. The answer to all of the questions running through my mind is that it’s not about me.   See, in that moment I saw in the scripture that Jesus didn’t make this life all about himself. He made His life all about serving others and about giving His life away for the benefit of humanity. That somehow, though my puny mind struggles to understand it, Jesus Christ found the true meaning of this life by giving it away. He wasn’t worried about people’s perceptions of Him. He wasn’t caught up in worries about finances. He didn’t concern Himself with leadership principles, or His popularity rating, or even if He would survive. He made it His mission to serve others, give His life away, and bring glory to His Father. Through that singular focus He lived the most fulfilling, purpose filled, awe-inspiring life ever imagined.

And He calls me to do the same.

Not through worrying about myself, and my insecurities, and my problems, and my hang-ups.

No, He calls me to find my life by laying it down. That somehow, someway as I take the focus of my life off of me and onto Him and His purpose I will find my life.   That when I stop worrying about how I will survive and focus instead on how to make Him famous that I will find my true purpose. That when I stop making this life, and this church for that matter, about me and more about Him that I will find the true measure of satisfaction and fulfillment for my life.

The key to battling doubt, insecurity, and worry isn’t through some nugget of self-help or key insight into obscure truth, it’s through shifting my focus away from me and onto others that Christ loves and died for.

Does that mean I stop taking care of my responsibilities? Not at all.

Does that mean I never will feel doubt, fear, anxiety for the future, or just plain insecurity about my abilities? No again. This means that the cure of these things isn’t found within me. It’s found through the vision and purpose of someone else. Someone greater than me.

There is a measure of trust that takes place when I focus on the cause of Jesus, believing that He cares for my life a lot more than I do and as I focus on the things that matter He will set me free from the things that don’t.

So if you are wondering what the heartbeat of Radiant Church, and this next step of my journey is, I would have to sum it up on one sentence:

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME

It can’t be about me. Because if I build this church on me, with the focus on me, I fail. But if I can train my focus on Christ and on His purpose then I am offering this city and community what it really needs: Jesus Christ.

With God’s help, my goal for Radiant Church is to get Drew Winters out of the way and allow Jesus Christ to shine His life on the people of our town. That people would walk away from our services talking about Jesus. That people would start their workweek talking about Jesus. That families would come together talking Jesus. That small group conversations would center on Jesus. That people would realize that by focusing on Jesus they will find true life. If that happens, no matter what the natural outcome is I win. No matter what this church looks like or no matter how long it lasts if people leave talking about Jesus I win. His purpose for Middle Georgia must be greater than mine.

So maybe you find yourself reading this blog struggling with doubts, insecurities, fears, and worries. May I offer you a solution?

It’s not about you.

I’m not saying don’t take responsibility for your life. I’m saying leave the final word for your life to someone greater than you. Your job is to lose your life. His job is to then let you find it. While I don’t completely begin to understand this paradox, I am learning that there is a freedom that comes when I shift my focus from my needs to His cause.

I invite you to do the same.

In closing, I actually write this blog from Puerto Rico. I’ve spent this week with some of my high school teens and watched God move in both their lives and in the lives of the local people here. Today we head back home to the states and tomorrow is another big day for me. Sunday, Fathers Day, we announce to Christ Chapel that I am leaving to plant a church. After Sunday there really is no going back.

Last night we visited a local church and joined them for service. A visiting local preacher was there who shared from his heart.

One guess as to what verse he built his message around……..

Yep, Matthew 20:28.

Time for me to give my life away……..

Godspeed, Drew