Should I even be here? (Part 1 of 3)

I think all of us have asked the question at one point in our ministry, “Should I even be here?”. Some of us have asked that more than once in our careers and some of you are asking that very question right now. The hours are getting longer, the frustrations are building, and your family is suffering because of your ministry. You see guys on Twitter posting comments like “We get to do this!” and you wonder “Why don’t I feel that way?” So what is the answer? Well to answer that question, I think we need to dive into what that question is really asking. Is it, Should I be in full time ministry? Or maybe, Should I be at this church? Or even, Should I just give up being a Technical/Production Director all together? These are all tough and maybe scary things to ask and will only be answered truly by seeking God and Godly counsel with all your heart.

The Back Story - You see, when I was first asked to do an article, I was told to write about something I was passionate about, something that would be helpful, and something that was hopefully unique. Oh yeah, and make it 500-700 words (Oops!). So I started typing. Little did I know… God was going to rattle my cage and challenge me to really ask these questions of myself and to ultimately lean on Him and trust Him to do whatever He wants with my life. I’ve been the Technical Director at High Desert Church in Victorville, CA since February of 2002. My official title is now Production Manager, but you can still find me on Twitter as @hdctechdirect . I grew up at this church. My dad was a pastor here for 18 years until he passed away suddenly in the balcony of the auditorium on his way to morning prayer in May of 2005. My brother and mother also now work here. I met my wife here, I was married here, and I had a job as a custodian here while I was in high school. You could say my family and I have given our lives to this church and its ministry. I truly love working here and would love to retire here.

So what’s the problem? Well, one of my best friends, who happens to be the worship pastor here at HDC, told me right before I was going to post this article that he was taking a position at another church in Pennsylvania. He was going to pack up his family and move 2540 miles away right after Christmas. Now this was not just another guy you go to lunch with at work. We worked many long hours together, our families did life together, we were in a small group together, our kids did birthday parties together, and we even lived on the same block. My 4 year old daughter knew that someday she would marry one of their boys. That is the type of friend I’m talking about. From the day he first came to HDC, we clicked. Professionally, we made each other better and we accomplished some pretty cool stuff. And now I’m left with not only a hole in my family’s heart, but a big hole in our church that needs to get filled.

So now it begins the long process of finding a new worship leader. I’ve been through it before and I’m asking God to make it as quick and painless as possible. I am nervous about the future. I know God knows what is best for our church and for me, but I also recognize that the worship leader God brings in may have different ideals than I do. He may want to change everything we do, and my role, I believe, is to either change or get out of the way. And so, I am in the same boat as many of you. I have to seriously ask myself, “Do you believe what you are preaching?” “Should you even be here?”

Should I be in full time ministry?

God has called and ordained few to this position. If you got into this gig because you felt roped into it by your pastor or you felt that “well if I don’t do it, who will?” then you probably are feeling greatly burdened by this question. You see, being in full-time ministry is a calling that God has given to some (not most) and you will only be frustrated, burned, and jaded if you are trying to fulfill a calling that you were never meant for. This has increased more and more over the last ten years with what I call the professionalization of the church. The fact that you can go to college and major in not only Theology to become a pastor, but in church music, church organization, church leadership, and even church production helps substantiate my theory. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not! It’s about time our people running our churches are trained. But what it does create is the naive individual that sees the church as a glamorous world that “You can get paid to be a professional church goer.” I’ve talked to many people over my lifetime and I’ve heard people say: “Well what do you do the other six days a week? You get paid that much for working on only Sundays? Man, I wish I could work at a church where everybody is always nice and there is no politics. I would love to work here, because it seems so much less stress than my secular job.” Let me tell you a little secret that is obvious to most of you reading this. Working at a church will never make you rich and it will never make you famous, and there are just as many imperfect people at churches than there are at any other job! The ratio is 1:1. Church production is not glamorous. It is a thankless job that requires long hours and hard work! And oh yeah, it’s stressful too!

Here’s the flip-side. When you are fulfilling the call God has placed on your life, it is the most rewarding place you will ever be, and not always on this side of heaven. I remember being called to full-time ministry. As a senior in high school, shortly after giving my life to Jesus, waking up in the middle of the night and having God speak to me, not in an audible voice, but it was clear to me that I was meant for something. I didn’t know what that meant at first and it took a lot of trial and error to figure it out. (I thought I should be a youth pastor at first. What an epic fail that was.) At times I didn’t even want it, but I knew without a doubt that I was called. You might be saying, “Um, I’ve never had that experience before.” That’s Ok. Not everyone is called that way. Maybe God spoke to you through a pastor or a Godly friend. I know that God speaks to me through my wife and kids all the time. Usually, He is telling me what a selfish moron I am. Others are just left to ask themselves, “Would I be happy and content doing anything else?” If the answer is yes, then you may not be called to full-time ministry. Well, have you made it through the first question? Yes? Well then let’s move on.

Should I be at this church?

I believe, without any hesitation, that you need to have the same fundamental theology, mission, and goals of your church. Otherwise, it’s just a job for you and you are not fulfilling that call God has placed on your life. As production staff, you are not only to be servants among the servants of God, but also partners with them. Now does this mean, you need to agree with every decision, statement, and doctrine that your leaders make or have? Of course not! No one agrees with everything. But in the words of my pastor, Tom Mercer, “The main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Read that again. “The main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing.” There are only a few things in life that are worth standing your ground over. Make sure they are about the main thing. And make sure your main thing aligns with the main thing of your church. Do not hinder what God wants for your local church. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” - Romans 12:18 If you can’t handle that then move on.

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Jacob Barbour and his wife, Kristi, have two beautiful little girls. They are lifelong residents of Southern California. His life journey has taken him from what he thought God wanted, which was to become a youth pastor, to being the Production Manager at a church of 10,000+ regular attenders. He has served at High Desert Church for thirteen years, two of those years as Front of House Engineer and the other eleven in his current role as Production Manager. Jacob is in charge of all Live Audio, Video, and Lighting equipment and personnel. He oversees two full-time and ten part-time paid staff, as well as over 100 volunteers, over three campuses.