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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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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