Ever since we began in a traveling kind of ministry, I have always thought that at some point I would end up leading worship in a church. It always seemed like it would be the ultimate destination for me. I must confess I never prayed about it, or received that as a word from God. It was just what I always assumed. Then, in the past two years, after watching some worship pastors that I know go through really tough circumstances, I pretty much vowed (an unholy vow, mind you) that there would be zero chance of me being on a church staff. Ever.
I looked at all of the wonderful things to which God had called me. Why would I ever bring a church staff job into the picture to complicate an otherwise wonderful and peaceful picture? So, as I spent most of this past year getting ready to turn 40, I assumed I would just stay on this current train with Jesus and sail off into the sunset...doing basically what I'm doing now for the rest of my years in ministry (traveling, singing, writing, arranging, leading worship) . I love it...I'm happy...I'm busy. No facet of our ministry shows any signs of slowing down any time soon. Ministry is hopping, family is happy, and all is well.
My team and I were in our final weekend of our Jesus Saves Live Tour for the year. It was Friday, November 13, in Jackson, TN. Great church. We had a great night of worship with their choir of 150 or so, and a full house of worshippers. The worship pastor was a great guy. Open and warm and very encouraging to us about our ministry. I didn't get to meet the pastor. I had heard about him. I heard he was a young guy...about 33...was called to that pastorate at age 30 or so, and had never pastored before. After the concert, the pastor came to the stage, shook my hand…that typical pastor-handshake-on-stage-while-everyone-claps-at-the-end-of-a-concert moment. He thanked us graciously, and left. We all went about our normal post-concert tasks. I never saw the pastor again that night. Never had a single conversation with him.
After the concert, we did our typical post-concert routine…greeting people, taking pictures, talking to new friends, and packing everything up on the bus. When everything was finally packed up and cleaned up, we all hopped on the bus to drive through the night to our next destination. I climbed on the bus and said the strangest thing. Something I've never said before...nor did I have any experiential facts with which to back it up. I walked on the bus and simply said, "I think I could grow old with that pastor." I don't know what possessed me to say it. I think that maybe it's because I had so convinced myself that there was no pastor I could ever work with...or church that would ever have me…and I would be smart to not even consider that I would have a place on a church staff ever again. I THINK that's what prompted my comment. But something quickened my heart to this guy in particular. Hard to explain. I had watched he and his wife worshipping during the concert. I watched them whisper to each other...pray together...raise their hearts in surrender together. For some reason, I had an innate trust in him already. Maybe that's where my weirdo comment came from.
I never thought about that comment or that pastor again. Then two weeks later, I got a call.