For those of you reading this that do not know me or have only been attending Gateway for about the last 3 years, allow me to introduce myself: My name is Shaun and I am the new/old Worship Resource Director and CR 9 Worship Leader. I was on staff full-time as the Worship Arts Director a little over 3 years ago before leaving to accept a position at Marathon Petroleum Company.
So to recap: I worked here, then I didn’t work here, now I work here again. That’s pretty much the math on this one. But, why though? How did this even happen?
Well, if this whole thing should go sideways know that the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of Pastor Josh and my darling wife. Pastor Josh preached a sermon several months back in which he offered a quote from noted pastor/theologian, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. I don’t remember the exact quote, but essentially it amounted to us seeking to be a lightning bolt for God. It moved my wife to ponder whether or not her husband was using his gifts or wasting them. What followed were some conversations that required us to pray hard, consider God’s will, and then dip our toes into the water of whether or not I should potentially return to Gateway full-time.
The odd thing for us was that once we did, the water was remarkably warm.
You see, the weird thing is most normal people don’t head off to a Fortune 100 company only to then decide, 3 years later, to leave the Fortune 100 to go back to their former employer. Where it gets God speaking through the mouth of a donkey-weird is when you leave a Fortune 100 company to go work at a church. It’s counterintuitive to everything society and our culture teaches us. People aspire to work at Marathon, not leave the company. And they aspire to work there for good reason. It’s a great company that takes care of its employees and cares deeply about the communities where they have operations. I met a lot of people I now greatly respect and will miss seeing on a regular basis. My former co-workers were so kind and gracious in their well wishes once they’d learned I was leaving Marathon, and I think that’s indicative of the general culture of the company itself.
So, why leave? Well, the truth is I never thought I would. I believed God opened that door 3 years ago and that’s what he had for me: working at Marathon. I hung a perfectly level picture of our family’s future up on the wall that included me finishing my career there. And I’m grateful that the decision makers at Marathon –many of whom are members at Gateway– were willing to give me that opportunity. They would have been perfectly justified to pass on my application, but they didn’t. The reality is there was only ever one place that I would leave Marathon for and that was Gateway. During those 3 years away I had a really crazy schedule. I’ll spare you the gory details of it, but will say it required me to work every other weekend which meant there were Sundays that I simply couldn’t be here with my family and our church family. And those days weren’t my favorite. I loathed them for that very reason. Even though I gave up my position here, I still loved serving and being a part of this body of believers. So, one could say that during the last 3 years absence has made my heart grow fonder. Fondness for Christ’s church, fondness for the people here, fondness for the people I served with, and fondness for the work we do to preach the Gospel.
I’ve been back in the office now for a little over a week and as I look back on the days since my resignation, I’m grateful for the tenderness God has shown me during this transition. Most of the time these sorts of things can be messy, but God has been gracious and smoothed out any bump in the road along the way. My wife and I have tethered ourselves to the desire to be faithful to God’s calling and the relative ease of this transition has felt like affirmation that we’re following the steps God has ordered for us. I’d be lying, however, if I didn’t admit it’s a little weird when people in your life applaud the news that you quit your job. I’m still scratching my head over on that one, but I think I know what they meant by it (wink). But the fact is this transition has been a painless endeavor. I mean, I moved a bunch of books, but that wasn’t so bad.
And the good people of Gateway have been very kind in their reception of the announcement. Thank you for your graciousness towards me and my family. Oddly enough, it seems more than a few people knew I would eventually end up back here before even I did. To you I say this: Ya’ll could’ve let me in on big secret a bit sooner and saved me some time! But, God ordains these things on his timetable, not ours. Thankfully.
And we’re very thankful for the leaders and staff here at Gateway, too. When I approached them about coming back on staff they did their due diligence and were gracious in receiving the idea and acting upon it. The truth is I love coming here and doing this work each day. I don’t wake up lamenting I have to go “to work” in the morning. So, I’m thankful for Pastors Josh and Ben and the rest of the staff for trusting me and letting me do this every day.
I’m not going to march us all through the weeds of my philosophy and vision for worship here at Gateway today. There is more than enough time and pixel space for that in future posts. But, suffice it to say I’m really glad to be back here at Gateway with this body of believers. My motto as a worship leader is to love the sound of the congregation more than the sound of your own voice. For me, that’s primarily a heart check, but the collective voice of Gateway Church praising our Savior is so sweet to my ears and my soul these days. I’m more than thankful to be back and for the chance to hear that sweet sound each and every Sunday again. I look forwards to the days ahead. Blessings, Gateway Church.