I’m a terrible counselor, continued…

I’m a terrible counselor, continued…

The next week I was sitting across from Todd on our home office couch, deliberating in my head whether or not I should go get a counseling degree or complete some kind of training. I recalled the countless other scenarios from when I was a youth pastor that should have clued me in on the fact that I was a sucky counselor. One time a 6th grade girl sat in my office crying because she thought she was ugly, 

“Why do you feel that way?” I asked.

“Because everyone thinks I’m ugly,” she said. 

“I have a hard time believing that everyone thinks you’re ugly,” I replied.

I was sitting across my desk from her, so I used my computer and searched on google for images of “ugly people.” A slew of God-awful looking people popped up on my screen. The search results included midgets with tumors, people from third world countries with large sores on their necks, circus performers with earlobes that had been stretched out and a whole bunch of images of people with funky looking teeth. I turned the computer screen toward her and said, “these people are ugly. You are not ugly. Now stop saying that about yourself.” 

She left my office giggling a little, but I don’t think she ever resolved her self image issues. I could go on with stories that prove my ineptness as a counselor and pastor, but do I need to say more? What I needed was some practical training, but I wasn’t sure where to start, so I just decided that I would not be doing the counseling at Oasis Church. If ever someone needed a good counselor, then I had a list of counselors in the area I would refer.

I was feeling a little bummed because I do not have the administrative capacity to manage a church, nor do I have the empathy to be a decent shepherd. Why was I even doing this? Shouldn’t I just get a sales job somewhere and find a good church to attend on Sundays? 

Oh snap, selling! Now that’s something I’m good at doing. My preaching is average, my counseling sucks, and my administrative gifting, non-existent. But I can sell stuff. I spent most of my twenties in sales jobs, mainly selling cars and home security systems. I had some fantastic sales training, and one thing I knew how to do was convince people to do stuff that they otherwise wouldn’t do. I figured my best investment to serve my church would be to go cold calling, meet up with some strangers, and then convince them to come to my church.

I started with Facebook because it was the only place I knew of where you could become friends with strangers without ever having speak to them. I joined as many neighborhood groups as I could within 10 minutes of my church, and then I just started sending friend requests to everyone in every neighborhood group. Eventually, Facebook shut down my friending frenzy and locked down my account. After I submitted a plea and explained my case, they let me out of Facebook jail with limited friending privileges. In addition to all my new friends, I was posting as many little comments on HOA pages and adding thoughts to the latest threads on various group forums. 

One time a lady liked a photo I posted and I followed up by sending her a private message to ask if she or her family would be willing to meet up to discuss the new church I was starting. Her family wasn’t interested, but she still agreed to meet me at Starbucks. I spent an hour getting to know her and sharing my testimony about coming to faith in Christ, then we parted ways. I didn’t think much of it, but apparently she did. She went home, spoke with her family, and within a couple of hours sent me an invitation to dinner. I had dinner at her house and met her husband, who was awaiting a court trial where he plead guilty and expected a minimum of two years in prison because of a crime he committed. We met for coffee a few days later, I encouraged him to surrender his life to Jesus before he went to jail, and he did! Right there in Starbucks, we prayed together, “Dear Lord, I know I’m not perfect, but you are. I know I’m unable to save myself, but you are. Here I am, I’m surrendering my whole life, my everything to you. Amen.” I looked up at him with celebration in my eyes, he looked at me with tears in his. I think that moment really stirred him emotionally because he stepped outside for a cigarette, and I posted a humble brag on Facebook about how I was leading people to Jesus in Starbucks because “God is good”. He and his wife and their teenage kids all got saved and baptized and have been following Jesus ever since. Some time later a few friends and I flew up to Long Island, NY to testify about his changed life and the judge gave him the lessor sentence which did not include jail time. Now 6 years later, he runs his own business and donates money to Oasis every time he makes a big sale. God radically transformed his life, and it was all started because of a Facebook strategy.  I actually spent more time in Facebook jail than he did real jail!

This was how I met tons of people. I would friend them on Facebook and then creepily invite myself into their lives. This worked for a season, but eventually it started feeling weird so I knocked it off.

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