I have called North Point my church family for over 21 years. As much as I want to be “just one of the guys”, I understand that with responsibility, comes expectations and clarity. And, for the most part, I’m okay with that.
One of the things I’ve always struggled with, though, is the loss of friendship.
I recognize the line between my job as a minister and my life as simply part of our church family is completely blurred. Some of that is because it is required of me…some because it’s just the way I am. But no matter which way you cut it, I’m fully invested.
I’m not naive. I know that through the years, there have been people who considered North Point their church family who left because of me. Maybe they disagreed with something I said. Maybe they felt I neglected them. Maybe they considered me a poor leader. Maybe they didn’t like my hair style. Maybe they just don’t like me very much.
It’s how some people have come to understand the church. It’s how some people have come to understand relationships. I don’t like it. I wish it were different, but ultimately, I’ve learned to be okay with all of that. I have to be.
No, the part that is really difficult for me is when people decide to leave North Point for reasons other than me, and I lose our friendship in the process. (For the record, I draw a deep distinction between being a friend and having a friendship. One takes little time and little effort. The other takes a huge dose of both).
Again, I understand that North Point isn’t for everybody. Maybe they just don’t want to be part of a church family at all anymore. Or maybe it could be that others are looking for different things in church families: programs for their children…a certain kind of Sunday morning show…the “right” kind of people…opportunities for serving…doctrinal purity…whatever.
And North Point certainly can’t be all things for all people. We don’t want to be.
But it still cuts deeply that I have to lose friendships when people decide we aren’t what they are looking for. Because once they leave North Point, nothing is ever the same. I lose our time together. I lose connection. I lose sharing life. I lose partnership. I simply lose touch. And there will never be the time to make it up.
All against my will. And I hate it.
And I’m always left to wonder if they feel the same way about the loss of me.
I’m kind of whiny tonight. Blame it on the sternum saw…