Skip to main content

a few thoughts on trust

Is it possible to be a pastor and not trust God?


You know you’ve reached bedrock when you start to write the words, “God, do I dare say this out loud?” 

As I continue to shine a light on my auto pilot and journey deep into my own life in the hopes of a new heart and way of being, I’m still uncovering patterns I didn’t realize were so hard wired in there.

Sometimes it takes experiencing the resurrection before you realize the ways you were slowly dying inside.

I used to believe wholeheartedly that I trusted God. I mean I went to seminary, made it through the ordination process and became a pastor. Of course I trusted God.

And yes, I did trust God. But part of me did not.

Now that I’m in another season of intense growth, I look back I see a pattern of trusting myself more than I trusted God. Talk about prevenient grace. This is the grace that is gifted to us before we’re aware of how God wants to move in our lives. Before I thought I was trusting God but it was really by default. I didn’t choose it on purpose very often. I tried to control life and couldn’t. And after the fact, I tried to call that faith.


This is what anxiety does. Anxiety screams in our heads that we can’t handle something. Which means we develop all kinds of coping mechanisms to get through life. We learn the right things to say and do to stay functional in our jobs and relationships. But when we accidentally get quiet for a moment, the truth whispers what we’re terrified to admit. “This is not how you want to live.”

When I look at how my trust in God has deepened this past year, it makes me feel like before I was just saying I trusted God but I really only trusted what I could make happen.

I’m still finding the language for how different it feels to actually trust God. Now it feels like my palms are open all the time. And that changes just about everything in my life.

It feels like I’m held.

It feels like the ground I’m standing on is stronger than the shaky mud I used to slip between my toes.

It feels like freedom.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how surrender works. The very things we cling to for dear life are killing us. When we memorize how it feels to open our palms and let go over and over and over and over, we learn to trust the moment of surrender. We learn that on the other side of the big, scary, bottomless swirl of uncertain darkness, there is a piece of solid ground. And it's enough for that moment.

As we approach the season of Lent, a traditional time of giving up something we’re too focused on and adding in a new habit or behavior, it’s a perfect time to surrender. What behavior, activity or attitude needs to take a break for 40 days? Consider fasting it. We give it up for a season to make room for something new to rise. If you’re feeling extra brave, go after the thing your heart tells you is the biggest distraction to your forward growth. You know what it is.

Know that God is inviting you into a resurrection this season. There is a part of you that wants to die and become something new. This is the business of God. Do you trust God enough to make the journey?

It’s okay if the trust feels small. Turns out Jesus can work miracles with the little bit that we offer. 

Jesus: I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do. - Matthew 17:20


scatter_joy said…
Holding on for dear life. Learning to open palms up is challenging. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…