This is another excerpt from my hopefully-soon-to-be-released book Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes. The book is about the lessons I learned as an Assemblies of God minister living as a monk with the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage. This excerpt is from my chapter Embracing My Illusions (Calling).
When I was a pastor in Tahlequah, OK, I used to tell my congregation that I wanted to be known as “Pastor Permission Giver.” I wanted to give people permission to use their gifts, talents and passions for God, regardless of what they were. I figured if God gave a person the gift to paint pictures, then there was some way for that person to glorify God through those paintings. Others might have the gift to learn languages, or enjoy working with mentally handicapped adults (my mom has that gift), or write music. Whatever gift you have, it has not been given to you by mistake, and the Creator of your gifts has granted you permission to use your gifts and passions in His Church. And if your church can’t find a place for you and your passions, THEN GO FIND ONE THAT WILL! I did.
The Church has too often become a place where amateurs and beginners have no place to practice their gifts and talents. That’s a shame, because the Church should be the safest place in the world to practice our gifts, make a mistake, know you are safe, and try again. There are no unique talents and gifts in the Church. Whatever is on your heart, you can find someone to mentor you in that area of your heart’s desire. I may have been the world’s only Assemblies of God monk, but I was not the only monk in the world, and I was surrounded by people who knew my heart and understood my passions. Furthermore, God was not treating me special because I was the only Protestant in a Catholic community. His goal for me at the Little Portion is the same as it is for you today — He wants you to become the best you can be by putting Jesus first in every part of your life.
So what is my purpose for including this chapter? I want to give you permission to follow your dreams, express your passion for living and do what you know God has called you to do. I want you shed the baggage of your illusions, find someone who has who has traveled a similar path and learn from their wisdom, and then go out and change your world because you have been changed by Christ.