I suck at vulnerability
I’m just going to put myself out there. If you have read anything I have given to the world, it probably had little to do with me and a lot to do with a certain topic. Fact is I suck at vulnerability — even with myself (weird right?). It’s not that I care that much about what people think about me — in fact, I care very little. Most of my teenage years any saying that had to do with haters I was all over (DGK’s “I Heart Haters” was my particular favorite). It’s not that I had haters either — I just liked the idea of it. The fact is I’m not vulnerable with the world because…I’m afraid to be vulnerable with myself.
I think I’m afraid of the answer I’ll find to the questions I block out daily.
“Maybe you’re not as cool as you thought you were…(I’m cool right? Swag on 10)”
“Maybe you’re not that smart — what is smart? Does it even matter?”
“No one listens to you anyhow -why speak? why write?”
“Why do you put in all these hours if they don’t listen, they don’t read?”
“Please — you’ll never change the world? Start movements — you’re kidding right?
“Maybe chasing my dreams will never pay my bills….”
This last question in particular wasn’t discovered in my “great practice of mindfulness” ( I’d like to think I’m mindful )— it just hit me in the face.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face” — Mike Tyson
School, school and more school
I’ve been in school almost my entire life. From Preschool all the way to 25 with no breaks — school, school, school. I went through my bachelors and the most extensive Master degree in the country (y’all sleeping on that Master of Divinity) hoping I walk out ready to fulfill the dream — that I could get paid to do what I most desired to church plant, to write, to speak, to influence, to change lives. I wouldn’t have to hustle anymore.
Well…I’m still hustling — got to pay the bills fam’.
Now, I love school and probably will go back for a doctorate (or two) and y’all probably ready for a sob story of “I couldn’t get a job” and the “education system lied to me” — which is true in some sense. The American education system is a business that promises a high return on your investment which is more often false than true. But that’s not my story — I can get a job, even in the field of “ministry.” Plenty of nice white suburban churches would pay me to be their “children pastor” for 35k or a “pastoral intern” for 40k plus benefits. Certain denominations have offered for me to church plant with them, and pastoral jobs are out there. The problem is all these offers and all the opportunities to “get paid” didn’t feel right. The problem was they aren’t the dream.
My dream is to change the world
My dream is to start movements for justice and truth. My dream is to start an authentic church planting movement that takes over cities for the Kingdom. My dream is to write, preach, teach and influence the world. I dream about mentoring and discipling people in the ways of Jesus. My dream is living in rebellion to the systems of injustice in the world. My dream is to see forgiveness, reconciliation, and generosity in my community. My dreams are Kingdom dreams. And Kingdom Dreams don’t come with a salary, benefits, and a 401k.
Now this isn’t saying I always dream spiritual-minded Kingdom dreams. Often, my dreams get infiltrated with not-so Kingdom dreams — and maybe that’s what this article is really about. Sometimes I dream of being famous and getting these book deals. Sometimes I dream about speaking at these enormous conferences and having some many invites to speak I can’t count. Sometimes I dream about making money while I’m sitting (that would be dope right?). The problem isn’t inherently with these things or getting paid, but they can become distractions to the true dreams. These not-so Kingdom dreams are at their heart about me and my success according to the world standards.
Kingdom dreams on the other hand cause me to reorient my definitions of success. Kingdom dreams require me to sit still, listen, and only move when God says move.
Struggling to pay the bills
Yeah, it’s hard some days when your struggling to pay the bills and see dudes like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins making $500,000 a month playing Fortnight (much love Ninja — no hate on your grind) or guys “writing 10,000 words a day” about who knows what, making a substantial living. I’m not hating on their grind, but sometimes I sit and wonder why I’m not getting paid to change the world, to live out the dreams God has put in me. Maybe I should have stepped my video game grind up as a teen (who thought I’d say that).
The point is I often feel like my favorite rapper Swoope feels (yes I said favorite).
“Money can’t buy happiness, but I wouldn’t mind crying in a Lambo” -Swoope on his song “Lambo.”
God always provides
But guess what — the bills always get paid. God has always provided what I need to make it through and then some. And in God’s continued providence might we be a people that provide for others need out of our abundance.
So I guess I am learning to refine my dreams. I’m learning to listen and wait. I am learning how my dreams are lived out in this season. I am learning that God has called me to the same dreams where I am now. Often things don’t always look how we’d like, but God is refining us in the seasons. He refining us to live out the Kingdom dreams.
So maybe I’ll never get paid to change the world…
Ehh…I’m still gon’ change the world tho.’