So you've reached the end of your 20s

I think us Wises have a common problem: we quickly develop a clear idea in our heads of what’s right in a given situation, and have little tolerance or patience for people who arrive at that idea more slowly than we do, or who arrive at a different idea than our own.

Sometimes this lends itself to natural leadership. Sometimes it lends itself to becoming disobedient followers.

It was no surprise to me then, when 4 years ago, I found myself employed by a company that rivals the U.S. government as one of the most cumbersome bureaucracies in the world. I’ve learned that God gifts us with certain things, and then, if we obey Him, works on us to purify out those areas we are lacking.
At the previous job, with a much smaller company, I was arrogant, determined, often on the right track, but occasionally disastrously resolute on the wrong one. That wouldn’t and didn’t work in a bureaucracy, and I accepted that I’d have to learn new, more gracious ways of getting things done. And maybe I got OK at it.

It should be equally no surprise then that this year seems to include participation in not one, but two committees. This is not how I imagined I would change the world 10 years ago when I was sure I could do that on my own. But it seems like God hasn’t given up refining me yet.

We’ve spent the better part of our summer so far re-arranging our lives for the fall. The fiscal year at my current employer lines up well with the school year, as does ministry life at church, so although we graduated more than half a decade ago, it seems we’re doomed to have our lives rotate around a year that begins in September. This works out fine, though, because a couple summer months to try to relax and re-prioritize seems to be helpful.

When we moved back here, we weren’t sure what ministry would look like, and we knew we needed to learn better how to create community connections. Approaching the beginning of our third year at our current church, I finally feel like we might have found our fit. In fact, its 5 in the morning, and I’ve been awake for 3 hours, because I’m so excited about the possibilities.

On community: this is a little bit funny, but I’ve been elected Vice President of my local Mac Users group. I say its funny because given my employer, it approaches a conflict of interest. But this isn’t a group that influences the marketplace, so I think I’m safe. Rather, its a group heavily skewed toward older folks, who have built a community around a technology. Yes, its a little unusual. But if God wanted to teach me about community and leading in a committee, could you think of a better fit for a geek like me? Shortly after this year’s elections, the President resigned, leaving me as the acting President until new elections can be held in the fall. Its likely that I will then officially assume the role.

We had our first Executive Meeting this week, and I was pleased and surprised that despite my inexperience in leading-by-committee, things happened fairly effectively. I suspect there are only a few Christians in the group, and not many are world travellers or industry leaders, but there’s still a fair bit I could stand to learn from these folks, and for the period of one year, at least, I will endeavour to lead graciously, and follow obediently when consensus is reached.

On ministry: Having a clear primary giftedness is both a blessing and a curse. I learned in New York that obedience means surrendering fully that gift, even if you want in your soul to be able to do something more.
I’ve learned since, and continuously, that God blesses obedience and gives back many times over what we offer to Him.
My primary giftedness is in technology, and as our church is beginning a project to leap forward in our media technology, I will joyfully offer what ability I have to the team. For 6 months I will help build, and following that I’ll serve as a volunteer as God leads.

My primary passion, however, is missions. We spent a year at our church trying adult ministry, and found that God was not in our efforts. We spent a year at our church trying student ministry, and found that God has begun closing that chapter in our lives as our own children grow and need our attention. We will remain involved in youth, but at a reduced capacity. This year we will try serving on the missions committee. I’ve never been more excited to be a part of a committee.
We have no idea what this entails, but the director has asked for administrative and organizational help. These are things that we can do. Nicole is a gifted and effective administrator, and although her primary job and passion right now is to be a mom, I am excited that she can exercise her other gifts as a part of an organization that isn’t primarily focused on groceries and potty training.

So excited that we went out and bought her a new laptop. For most of her adult life, she’s used my hand-my-downs — which to be fair, are usually very nice machines. But she needs something that’s not 6-8 years old, that runs a modern OS, and that is capable and reliable. We bought a PC because Windows 7 rocks, and the prices are unbeatable.

And that segues nicely into our final priority for FY11. We have made a concerted and intentional effort to be obedient stewards with our finances, and to consistently give back to God the portion we feel honors Him. And as with our other gifts, He’s blessed us back more than we could have imagined. This summer we took a huge leap of financial faith and blew all our cash and maxed our primary credit card on a self-funded trip to Asia. Not a full month later and we’ve recovered down to the last dollar with income above and beyond what my job pays (thank you income tax, and retro-active Child Tax Benefit!) Within a year I’ll be debt free, save for our mortgage. And within another Nicole will be too, and we’ll have some strong non-liquid assets.
We’ve been obedient with our vehicles as well, and this fall we feel no check in the spirit about buying our first family van — the cost of which will be primarily covered with cash.

All of this is exciting, but it also means there’s more we need to learn. If we learn to be faithful with a little and He gives us more, then we need to learn how to be faithful with that too. I can’t for the life of me understand to what end we have been given the opportunity and blessing we have, but we are determined to grow and learn and obey until God gives us clear direction on what comes next.

Nic turned 30 this weekend; I will do the same shortly. Its been a good decade. In some ways we close it out with a sense of accomplishment, and in many ways we are humbled by the responsibility our 30s bring us. But while our attempts to understand and learn, and our frequent railing at Him when we were confused or lost, must seem child-like to the Creator of the universe, He has been faithful and infallible in His love and provision and instruction. We can’t wait to see what He has in store…

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