Where Do I Stand? by Aaron Gates

 

Where do I stand?

A Guest Post by Aaron Gates 

After leaving a church group that I had been “professionally” affiliated with for five years I had a lot of questions to ask myself. I had to ask myself where to go to church; who my real friends were. Everyone I associated with on a regular basis I went to church with. When the dam finally broke I was engaged and about to start pre-marital counseling with the pastor. I was living with a family from the church. Two of the teenagers I worked closely with in the youth group lived in that house. It was a Thursday afternoon when I had finished up my extremely heated conversation with my pastor by telling him I was going to find somewhere else to go to church. When I got home I told the guys that I had a disagreement with Pastor S. and would not be going to church with them any more. When their Grandmother got home a little later I gave her the same vague description of why I was leaving. She said something very interesting to me. She said, and I quote, “You know what really happened is going to come out so you might as well tell me.” She was right and I knew it. So I responded, “You’re probably right but you aren’t going to hear it from me.” I promised myself I would not bad mouth the pastor to any of the church members or anyone affiliated with the church.

To this day I have not.

I have had more opportunities than I can count to tell people how badly I was treated. How violated I felt by people I trusted. I could have told the truth. I did not. Unfortunately I was not afforded the same courtesy.

The people at the church had always talked about our relationship as if we were family. So when I stopped attending that church I did not know what to expect.

Would they continue to treat me like family, or was I only family when I attended church with them?

So I was hurt when I realized that I was only a family member when I was a church member. I felt like I was mourning the death of myself; like part of who I was died, because part of me did. A huge part of my life was over, and I felt empty. I was stressed out by trying to live up to the expectations and standards that were set for me from the time I was 18. Then I felt broken and lost.

 

The conflict at the root of everything was that my relationship with God was founded on what I had been taught and told and made to experience. My relationship with God had been corralled in a direction that a pastor wanted me to go. I had a need to find out what I believed and needed to reconcile that with all that I had been taught for the past ten or so years.

I had to decide for myself where I stood.

What do I believe? That is a scary question.

I wanted to know if believing in God was even worth it. It took me a very long time to work everything out.

I wrote that like I have it all worked out. That’s funny. I don’t!

However, there are some things I know. I know that God loves me and He sent His Son to the world for that reason. I know that I chose to live for God before I went to Masters or to the church. I know that my relationship with Him is based on our mutual experience with each other. I believe that He is the way the truth and the life and no one can go to the Father except through Him. I also know that everyone has a different reaction to difficult situations and I don’t expect everyone to believe that. I know that in the church that God wants to see in the world there is room for everyone and room for different opinions and different convictions.

Some will say that there is only one way to be a Christian. I know that God made every person on earth different. Based on that, there are roughly six billion ways to have a relationship with God and it is not my place or anyone else’s to determine what that should look like for anyone. I also know that I lost sight of God because I was more concerned with what a group of people thought about me than what God thought about me. I know that I will never be in ministry in any capacity again, by choice.

But most importantly, I know God.

 

My name is Aaron Gates I live in Gulfport, MS with my wife Jenny and brand new daughter Rebecca. I have been blogging about my experience as a Christian and a new dad since August 2010. If anyone wants to contact me to talk about your experience in Master’s Commission, ministry, or anything else, I’d love to hear from you: aaron.p.gates@gmail.com.

Check out my blog.

3 thoughts on “Where Do I Stand? by Aaron Gates”

  1. Oh you silly lifers; I prob shouldve got out after my first year but i got fed that line about mc being a 2 yr program and took the bait. My stint in masters and a subsequent spilt at my home church has influenced my religious life in that its now nonexistent. My views of the bible and the holy spirit and jesus as the only way to the father have changed none at all; i just steer as far away from all religious organizations as possible. Anyway congrats with the wife and kid Aaron.

  2. Master’s Commission was the best thing that ever happened to me. I learned self-discipline and how to take responsibility for my actions. Were the people perfect? No, not at all, but then again who is? The great thing about the Kingdom of God is that God brings about perfection through imperfection. I will never forget the times that I spent with God and the moments we shared. He healed me. I found a secret place with Him. What a special relationship that I have with Him to this day.

    The problem always comes when we begin to focus on people and not on God. People are imperfect, God is perfect and has a perfect plan for our lives, just read Jeremiah 29:11. When we focus on people it is easy to become hurt and disillusioned. When we focus on our Creator we see what we were truly meant to become.

    I say all that, but was kicked out of Master’s Commission! How can I say it was the best experience of my life? Because it was never about the people and always about God. God is ultimately in control of my life. Do I have any relationship with the people that, at the time, claimed to be my family? No, in fact, I never heard from them again. But God used them and that experience to propel me to bigger and greater things.

    Never do ministry again? That is a very harsh thing to say, because what is ministry? It is us serving others the way that Christ served us. Ministry is giving selflessly to others with no thought of return. I will always be in ministry as will every person that calls themselves a Christian. Maybe your ministry is giving food to a starving child, helping a widow paint her house, or speaking encouraging words to the down-hearted.

    I know how you feel Aaron but God is not done with you. He placed you there for a divine purpose. I found that when I took my eyes off of myself and people around me and looked up to God, He began to show me all of the good that he wanted me to take out of that situation.

     

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