So, now what.
It’s funny. I always dread the in between times. Right? Last week I told you about things I learned in the doctoral program and the week before that I talked about why I went into the doctoral program, like what in the world possibly possessed me to want to get another degree?
Here I am.
3 years later.
Degree in hand.
… What now?
I love working on things. I love knowing that I have a task to do and then planning on how to get it done. And so I found the last 3 years to be a gigantic rush of adrenaline. There were moments of frustration and grief as I tried to juggle what felt like 10,000 different things. There were moments when I felt like I was at the end of my rope and literally threw a book across the room and there were other times I put my head on my desk and wept into a puddle of exhaustion, but (even so) I found it all to be so exciting and so energizing and so exhilarating, and so, so wonderful.
And now I feel kind of sad. And I feel sad because this thing that I’ve poured SO MUCH attention into over the last 3 years and have nurtured each and every day for the last 3 years is done. The goal has been reached. That leg of the journey has come to an end.
And I think that’s important perspective to have.
Because notice I didn’t say that the journey itself has come to an end, but that this particular leg of the journey has come to an end. There’s a difference because the journey has just begun, really. It’s not over. The last 3 years were just a season.
Just like the church plant that Dana and I did was a season.
And the church I pastored was a season.
And getting my Master’s was a season.
And college was a season.
And the internships were a season.
Getting my doctorate was just another leg in the journey and although that leg has come to a close, it has only prepared me and throttled me and propelled me into whatever’s next.
So, what’s next?
The other day I was talking to my friend Bo Sanders and he said something really interesting. He said that right now I’m kind of like a tent maker. The Apostle Paul was a tent maker in that he made and sold tents for a living while he preached the Gospel as his full-time gig.
Tent making paid the bills and got him interacting with various kinds of people.
Preaching the Gospel brought his heart to life.
I’m in the same boat, really. For me, Apple is my tent making job. It pays the bills. It helps me interact with various kinds of people from various kinds of backgrounds and cultures. But the What If Project and this podcast and blog is what brings my heart to life, that’s my full-time gig. I share the Gospel here with my writing and with my voice and I also share the Gospel at Apple, I think, with my life and the way I treat people around me.
And so Bo said to me that although being a tent maker might be frustrating because it sometimes feels like it takes away from the thing I love to do here at the What If Project, it’s also a blessing. And it’s a blessing because not only does it get me regularly interacting with people I wouldn’t normally interact with in a church / ministry setting, but I can pretty much say and do whatever I want and go wherever I feel the Spirit leading me on the podcast without having to worry about my paycheck being revoked as a result.
I can talk about LGBTQ.
I can challenge the idea of hell.
I can rethink the concept of the atonement and why Jesus died.
… I can talk about those hot topics, share my unfiltered opinion and thoughts, wrestle with this stuff out in the open, and not need to worry about a meeting being called on Monday morning to assess whether or not I’m “fit” for leadership.
(That stuff does happen, by the way.)
And there’s a lot of truth in that, really.
I remember back when I pastored my first church. The elder board wanted me to be ordained in the Reformed Church and after going through some classes and stuff I told them that I couldn’t go forward with the ordination because it would force me to align myself with some theologies and doctrines and views of God that I didn’t believe in and couldn’t support. They responded and said that if I didn’t go through with it, I wouldn’t have a job.
I wouldn’t be welcomed in the pulpit.
I would lose my paycheck.
I would lose the house I was living in.
… And one elder said that I would need to really think about whether sticking to my convictions was that important, especially when I was going to be getting married just a few months later and would have a wife to support. I told them that I refused to sacrifice my beliefs and convictions on the altar of the security they thought they were offering me and that I had no doubt that God would take care of us if I wasn’t welcomed back.
Long story short, I gave them my notice and ended up leaving the church.
I tell you all of that because Bo is 1000% right – when you pastor a church or lead an organization where boards and other people have leverage and power over your paycheck, you need to be really, really careful what you talk about. Like I said a few months back, you need to play the political game and cater to the whims of convictions and values of the people who have the power to make your life miserable.
I know some people who are passionate about LGBTQ inclusion, but have to remain silent about tit because they work for a church and would be fired if they spoke up.
I know other people who think the idea of hell and eternal torture is ridiculous, but they keep their thoughts to themselves out of fear of the church burning them with criticism and kicking them out of their staff positions.
So, yeah. Bo is right – I’m super blessed to be in the position I’m in. I’m coming up on being with Apple for 9 years, was just promoted to a new position and placed into a new store with a quicker commute, much better hours, and am doing a job that I actually enjoy doing a lot more than what I was doing for the last 9 years. I also get to work with people from various backgrounds who hold varying beliefs about God and faith and the life … and I love talking with them, learning from them, and doing life with them.
All that to say, I think I will always be a tent maker. People ask me if I’ll ever pastor a church again and I really don’t think I will. I had a professor way back in my Master’s program who sat me down in his office one day and said that he feels like my creative wings are too big for the church and that the church would almost be like a cage for me.
I think he was right.
At some point I would love to be part-time at Apple or maybe even somewhere else as that would allow me to keep interacting with interesting people and keep some income coming in, as well.
And for the rest of the time, I want to keep doing THIS.
What is this? Another friend of mine, Alexander John Shaia (I interviewed him on the podcast last year, you can listen to it HERE) messaged me the other day. We were chatting back and forth and he said that the What If Project is sort of like the ministry of John the Baptist because like John, it’s a voice that is calling people BACK to the wilderness.
Usually we think that we want to LEAVE the wildness. Like, the wilderness is the place we want to AVOID or LEAVE or get away from.
The Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years and then they entered the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey. We want that, right? We want the promised land, we don’t want the desert.
If you read Matthew’s Gospel you’ll see that John the Baptist was a known as a voice IN the wilderness who was calling the Jews of Israel to leave their promised land, to go back into the wilderness from which their ancestors came (the one in which they spent 40 years wandering) to repent and to be baptized.
In essence, if Israel and the Temple represented …
All of their traditions.
All of their beliefs.
All of their thoughts about God.
All of their convictions.
… Then John was out in the wilderness calling them to leave all of that behind, to get away from it, to rethink everything they had learned, and to be baptized into a new way of life, a new way of thinking, a new way of living.
Alexander said that the work of the What If Project is important because it’s challenging people to look beyond their traditions, beyond what they’ve always assumed is right, beyond how they’ve come to see and understand God and faith and spirituality and the Bible and church so that they can look deeper and maybe beyond all of those things so that they can see something they never saw before.
That’s what THIS is.
And so I want to keep podcasting. I want to keep bringing on guests, yes, and I want to keep getting better at interviewing people. But I want to keep exploring the Scriptures on my own and sharing my own thoughts and ideas as I did through our Mark series last Fall and the God’s Not Mad series this Spring. Back in my Master’s program I received a preaching scholarship …
I love to preach.
I love to teach.
I love to create and craft messages and share them with people.
… And so I love the weeks that I do solo episodes like this one. I love sitting down to prepare a thought or a message and then turning on the microphone to share it with you. I want to keep doing that and keep getting better.
And I want to keep kicking some hornets nests with the stuff I talk about. Apparently I’ve really ticked some people off with my blunt thoughts about things like hell, the afterlife, the book of Revelation, LGBTQ inclusion, etc. I’ve been told that some people are really rattled and that in some circles I’ve lost the respect of people who once held me with high regard.
I kick the hornet nests because they need to be kicked. And the harder the nest is kicked, the more dialogue it creates, and the more comfortable people feel to come out of their own hiding places to talk about and voice their own questions, concerns, and doubts that were once to ashamed to admit.
Kicking the hornet’s nest angers a lot of people from my old Evangelical tribe, but it also creates a level of much needed comfort and acceptance for a great amount of people who have felt outcasted by that same tribe due to their beliefs, sexuality, etc.
I also have an idea for a book that I pitched to a publisher and although the idea is vague and no manuscript exists yet, they said it sounded like something that might fit in their lineup of books so I should start working on a manuscript and send them some pieces of it.
So, there’s that.
I also want to put on some events …
I want to set up a table at the Charlotte Pride Parade and serve communion to our LGBTQ community who have been shamed and turned away by the church.
I want to get a table at the Wild Goose Festival and do the same as well as set up a confessional booth where I (as the pastor / priest) confess the sins of the church to our LGBTQ friends, our friends of different races, our Native American friends, etc.
I want to partner with some local churches to inquire about support for the project to help with those kinds of events and maybe do some guest preaching for them with messages that revolve around some things addressed on the podcast.
There’s SO. MUCH. I want to do with THIS. How will it make money? I’m not really sure. Will it ever make money? I have no idea. But I don’t really care, either. I’m not in it to make money. But I have told God that I want this to be my full time work. And so if that’s in the cards for me, then I’m sure support will come from somewhere, somehow. Maybe not tomorrow or today or this year or next year, but it will come.
It will happen.
And Patreon - Patreon has showed me that people will support if they are asked. We have 9 patrons so far and each of them has reached out to me on their own accord to say thank you for this project. They have said it has touched them, challenged them, inspired them in some way … and I think that’s just magical. Right now it’s making just enough money to pay for the hosting fees for the podcast, blog, and domain name and so I no longer need to come up with that money. That alone is a blessing beyond words and it inspires me to keep creating content that will make people feel more at home in their questions, doubts, and wonders about God and faith and all of that stuff.
And so that’s it.
Where am I going from here? A tent making podcaster who has a message to share, a few hornet’s nests to kick, a book to write, a confession booth to set up, communion to serve, and a lot of love to give.
I got my doctorate so that I could hear from God.
I heard from God in ways I never thought possible.
And now I’m doing things I never thought I’d do.
… And I’m grateful for every second.
Much love, friends.
- Dr. Glenn