I met another Vineyard pastor at a conference a few months back. In sharing some of the excitements and disappointments of planting a new church, I became a little impassioned. I began to talk about the brokenness in the City, and the diversity, and the presence of cultures from every continent, and the desire to live communally, and plant churches all over the city, and my frustration over consumeristic visions of the church, and our hope to engage some of the ignored segments of our society. It was at this point that he made a short, but oh so sweet remark. He told me that what we were doing was 'very important work.'
I began to cry.
I have dear friends who support me. Not only support, but they 'get' me, they believe in me, and they regularly affirm me. But they are my family, they are supposed to tell me I'm the greatest! This, on the other hand, was a stranger affirming me. I have been so used to hearing the opposite of what he told me. I am so used to being force-fed models of success that have no slot for any of the values that I hold dear. I am so used to wrestling with the tension of seeing real fruit, but not being able to point to the hundreds of people who flock to our building every week, and so feeling a sense of failure.
It was amazing to have someone essentially say: I see you! I see your dream! I see what you are trying to accomplish, and it is beautiful! Don't give up, and certainly don't trade it for someone else's vision of success! What you are doing is vital, it is pioneering work. It isn't easy, you may labor long before you see the fruit you hope for, but if the work isn't done, then the fruit will not come!
I felt like someone finally understood why I don't use tomato cages...