Eugene Cho

i’m okay with not always being okay

I hope it was ok for me to be honest about some of the suckiness I’ve been feeling recently.  Sometimes, I’ll read and hear what other pastors are writing or saying and I sometimes have doubts.  Everything they say, do, or experience about their lives or their ministry seems to be perfect, amazing, and incredible…like totally…like 24/7…every day.  That’s cool if it’s true.

I’m not like that.  I have my share of stuff, frustrations, and pain.  Of course, I don’t use the blogosphere to share alot of that stuff because it may hurt people but I don’t mind sharing – as honestly as I can – that sometimes, things suck.  Simply, I’m okay with not always being okay.  

The things I shared on my last post – When It Rains, It Pours – are stuff that sucked that I could share.  The stuff I couldn’t share were the real sucky stuff.  I don’t want to paint or portray that everything is perfect, beautiful, and rosy all the time.  Because it’s not.

So, what does that mean for Quest?  Nothing…except to say it’s far from a perfect church and I’m far from a perfect pastor.

I can’t speak for other churches and ministries.  I can only speak for what God has chosen to do through the leadership and community at Quest… it’s pretty amazing.  As a pastor, it’s tough to only hear the bad, negative, and critical stuff.  So, it’s good, important, and healthy to take the opportunities to step back, soak in, and enjoy.  

I still remember working as a custodian trying to make ends meet and wondering why Quest wasn’t getting started.  I remember the 7 people that joined us for our first meeting.  I remember several months of trying to get a dozen people to commit to our first community group.  I remember being kicked out of the University District and not knowing where to go.  I remember asking 40 people in the 6th month of our churchplant to help us raise $100,000 to help birth a non-profit and non-religious community cafe and music venue.  I remember the frustration of having no other children at Quest besides our own and seeing nearly 70+ kids this past Sunday with another baby born yesterday at Quest and another due any minute. I remember the incredible Kingdom mindedness of our then landlords – Interbay Covenant Church –  choosing to close down their 65 year old church, handing the entire property over to Quest, and joining our community.  I remember and rejoice in the stories of women, men, and children seeking to live their lives for the glory and honor of Christ.

Lots of exciting things.  Quest keeps growing.  Community groups are growing. Excited about the three foundations:  Churchplanting, Community Development, and Global Presence.  We not only met our projected financial goals last year but exceeded it.  

Blah blah blah.

I just want to make sure we don’t become a church that feels like we have so much to lose that we take a posture of “protecting our interests.”  Quest began with a vision for faithful and prayerful risktaking and I pray that never changes.

Filed under: church, quest church, seattle

16 Responses

  1. jorgebautista says:

    Much respect to you Pastor Eugene. I think its great that you can be honest when things don’t go as you wish they would.

  2. reJoyce says:

    “Everything they say, do, or experience about their lives or their ministry seems to be perfect, amazing, and incredible…like totally…like 24/7…every day. That’s cool if it’s true.”

    I’d be really, really surprised if it is true. Sometimes, sure, All the time? Not likely. I don’t think that’s the way God works and that acting as if everything is going to always go great in your life and ministry because you’re a Christian gives people the wrong idea of what Christianity entails.

  3. steve says:

    i was recently told by a good friend in the pastorate that “people were wanting to see leaders that were impeccable, and set apart from the rest of their congregants”…as a fellow pastor, i’ve found that i influence and have the ability to step into people’s lives more frequently and more freely when they don’t view me as “impeccable” but rather they know me as a Christ following God fearing man who sometimes says sh*t when he hits his thumb with a hammer…keep being who you are, you bring the best influence by being you

  4. daphne says:

    I respect your honesty P.E. and it’s one of the many things I appreciate about Quest. I’m very sorry you are in a suckith-o-plenty time. Jason and I will be praying.

  5. Moi says:

    P.E. –
    My Son, my Daughters, my family and All of YOU my dear friends. I got a book and I’d like to share something that I find quite special.

    Remember These Things…

    Always keep your many interests –
    they will keep you
    constantly occupied
    Always keep your positive outlook –
    it will give you the energy to
    accomplish great things
    Always keep your determination –
    it will give you the ability
    to succeed in meeting your goals
    Always keep your excitement
    about whatever you do –
    it will help you to have fun
    Always keep your sense of humor –
    it will allow you to
    make mistakes and learn from them
    Always keep your confidence –
    it will allow you to take risks
    and not be afraid of failure
    Always keep your sensitivity –
    it will help you to understand
    and do something about
    injustices in the world
    As you continue to grow
    in your own unique, wonderful way
    always remember that
    I am more proud of you
    than ever before and
    I love you
    -Susan Polis Schutz

  6. Kyle says:

    Great blog Eugene! A polished, perfect portrayal of faith leaves any observer feeling defeated. When good pastors are honest it gives hope of a God that is big enough to handle all of us… quirks, questions, and all.

    Sure love what you are doing! You are an inspiration to me. Keep it up!

  7. Peter says:

    Paradoxes. How God loves paradoxes, and thrust us into them so that His grace is truly more than sufficient. To be strong when we are weak. To be perplexed, but not despairing. To be peaceful when life throws us a curve ball. To be joyful when we want to mourn. … So the list goes on. What we call the normal Christian life is for everyone, pastors included. Guess it is harder when pastors are put on a pedestal, that to be honest about themselves becomes really challenging – that they just the brother/sister next to another in the church. Not less human.

    May His grace abound in you.

  8. Kelly says:

    I completely appreciate your honesty. It’s good to be reminded that pastors and church leaders are not above needing prayer and support. For a long time, I came to church as a “taker”, thinking it was the sole duty of the church and its leaders to support me and grow me spiritually. And while Quest has done so much to uplift me on so many occasions, there is so much more value in coming to church as a “giver”, seeking ways I can uphold the body of Christ. It’s good to be reminded of the need for giving, praying, and strengthening. You will be in my prayers. Thank you again for your transparency.

  9. Pam Christensen says:

    PE,
    I appreciate your honesty. Pastors who can’t be real scare me a bit:)

  10. Jim Chen says:

    Yes! If the body doesn’t know what’s going on, how can it help?

  11. Just Meee~ says:

    …and did you ever think this was a TEST that GOD is giving you???? Just to see how you will handle yourself and all that the TEST comes with…

    Just a thought~

  12. Sam says:

    For the stuff that you feel is not appropriate to share in a place like this or in another group/public forum, do you have a friend who is not part of your group, and preferably who does not live nearby who you can talk to by e-mail, phone or whatever?

    I have been this friend for several pastor friends. Since I’m not part of their church, and don’t live in their town, they can tell me stuff that they don’t feel they can tell anyone but their wife. The wife IS a good person to talk to, especially since since is probably familiar with the people and situations involved, but sometimes she is too close to look at the situation objectively. Sometimes she simply needs not to hear about every crappy thing happening.

    If your confidant is local, you can sit down together. That is an advantage. The disadvantage is that they may know someone you are telling them about. It might be aunt Tillies’ neighbor or brother-in-law. Also, there is more chance that something you discuss with your confidant might get back to the church.

    That last sentence brings up another point – Your confidant needs to score 100 on a scale of 1 to 100 on the ability to keep their mouth shut. It’s human nature to want to strangle someone today, and next month feel differently. If we tell our confidant today that we’d like to strangle old Mr. Jones, it may be best that he not find out next month that we felt that way today.

    I am of the opinion that a lot of crap comes my way, your way, and most everyone’s way. Many pastors are in the unfortunate position of having to deal with their own crap, and lots of other people want the pastor to help them out with theirs, or at least hear about it. Unfortunately, I think this is a misunderstanding of the Scripture. No where does it say to dump all this on the pastor. It says to bear one another’s burdens – not give them all to the pastor.

  13. RV says:

    Thanks for your honesty. I think the closer each of us goes toward the truth, the closer each of goes toward God. In your honesty, I think you help not only yourself, but the rest of us who listen, to go that much closer to God. Life is not perfect…it is beautiful in all it’s glorious mess.

  14. Rachel says:

    I loved that you talked about the garbage. It’s not all good in life and when you fake it, you set the tone for having a fake church.

  15. kristine says:

    thanks for sharing and being authentic! as someone who has tended to look at the glass as half empty, i know it’s important to not lose sight of the blessings and answered prayers in my life. at the same time, there are moments when i end up wondering if i’m the only one who gets socked with some crappy things in life when those around me are only sharing their “perfect” lives of faith.

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One Day’s Wages

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People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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