When I was a small boy in elementary school my grandfather would get up every morning and make my brother and me breakfast. While he would tell us stories about his life, this man who was a first generation immigrant from Puerto Rico really appreciated that his grandchildren were getting an education. Before we would go to school my grandfather would ask us three questions: (1) First, “Who loves you?” Our answer would be, “You do Grandpa!” (2) Second, my grandfather would ask, “Who believes in you?” We would shout, “You do Grandpa!” (3) He would then ask us, “Who thinks you were created with a purpose and you are going to do great things because you are great?” Once again, we would declare out loud, “You do Grandpa!” as we ran to give him a hug. I never grew tired of the eight years that this man, Victor C. Soto, would do this most every morning before we went to school.
Many of us have come out of dysfunctional homes and we find at times regardless of what stage of life we are in thinking we have something figured out but instead we see ourselves bumping our heads up against another obstacle and it usually around people and relationships. I have been a pastor for 35 years as well as an overseer of pastors and one reality that we must come to recognize is that “We really are all here because we are not all there!” For me a Type “A” personality I have come to adopt a non-arrival theology that states that this side of eternity we will never arrive to a place of perfection. Many leaders battle against the fatiguing contention as they struggle with “Destination Disease.” The language of this affliction goes like this: “When I get to that church where the people have it together, then I will be able to do some great things!” This is the language of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the hill.” On my own journey of personal recovery by the grace and power of Jesus Christ I have come to appreciate the words of my grandfather today using the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:10 when he writes, “For we are God’s masterpiece ………” All of us are God’s unique piece of art and there is no one on planet earth who is exactly like you and me; in other words the greatness of God who creates us in His image places His greatness in us. Thus, our life is an integrated whole not a collection of categories that have been parsed out and how we get there is as important as getting there! We are on an exciting journey learning to be formed into what the Master Artist desires us to be!
In my blog you will discover everything from the personal to the professional as I am learning to become a more reflective leader. Everything that I write will be in the context of real life and I will share with you tools that I am discovering help me to navigate the waters of my own frail humanity as it comes into contact with the humanity of others. This is called the Church and I love the Church! I am a teacher and I am a person who finds his greatest pleasure in helping others to succeed along with having an effective ability to connect and build relationships with a diversity of people. What is most meaningful to me is that I am a committed follower of Christ in my personal life and as a result of this it has made me a committed husband, a proud father to five sons and a joy-filled grandfather. I have lived through great seasons marked by intense pain and incredible joy understanding that God uses everything to shape me into becoming a better man.
Therefore, it is my conviction that the Church exists for “spiritual formation.” Everything of the church’s mission from discipleship to outreach flows out of this foundation. As a pastor this requires that I be growing and am being transformed on my own faith journey not because it is part of my job description but because I desire to always lead my own life from the position of an awe of God. I like how John O’Donohue, states it in his book Divine Beauty, “We live between the act of awakening and the act of surrender.” Moreover, he argues, “that both the act of awakening and surrender are shaped by seeing because how we see determines what we see, and what we see shapes our soul. Little wonder why seeing is so foundational to the spiritual journey. It is from this position that clearly defines who “I am” and makes it exciting to do this journey with others. I am privileged to be one of the curators called by the “Master Artist” to serve this wonderful agency of His Kingdom called the Church which is where all of His artwork is put on display for the entire world to witness.
I invite you to join me on this journey of discovery recognizing that we have a Heavenly Father who is for us!
Yours on the journey,