Inciting Incidents: Clean the Suburban... Today!

When it comes to Inciting Incidents in my life and ministry this is the first one that quickly came to mind: Three years into full-time Youth Ministry and 6 months into marriage my wife and I decided to move to Houston.  We felt God was calling us to rebuild a dying ministry in a dwindling downtown church.  It was a pay-cut and I was leaving a healthy growing church where we had incredible support and the decision did not make sense to most of our friends and family.  Regardless, we made the decision and there was no looking back.

6 weeks into the move my perspective began to change.  What I was so optimistic about weeks before had quickly dwindled and my passion and enthusiasm for the ministry had diminished greatly. I began to see bigger issues on the inside and change would not happen as easily or quickly as I first thought.

To say that we were paycheck to paycheck at the time would be an understatement.  We literally only had pennies in our bank account and were 2 days away from pay day where we could fill up our cars with gas again and go grocery shopping.  It was first thing Monday morning and I was exhausted after a 14 hour Sunday when my office phone rang.   It was the Executive Pastor's Secretary calling.

It was honestly the rudest phone call I have ever received at the worst possible time.  Without letting me speak a word she chewed me out about how the Youth had trashed the church suburban and I had by the end of the day to get it professionally cleaned.   By the way, I would be paying for it out of my pocket she demanded. I tried to explain that the Youth had not even used the Suburban that Sunday, but my explanation fell on deaf ears and I was given my task.

That incident incited one of the most intense hours of prayer that I have ever experienced.  I was ready to quit right there and take up a new career.  I didn't think I could go back to my old job and I didn't think I could continue with my new one.  I didn't know what to do or where to go.  I was regretting my first big decision as a husband and didn't know how I would explain the mistake I had made in taking this job to my wife (or her family who I had moved her away from).   I didn't even know how to pay for the $15 car wash that was demanded of me.

I made a commitment in that moment that I was going to serve that church with all that I had and that quitting was not an option.  I had to persevere this challenge and move forward, not backward.

I'm not sure how I paid for that car wash, but I did get that suburban cleaned.  The challenges didn't disappear, but's God's blessing through our perseverance did.  In less than a year I was promoted to the role of Director of Youth Ministries at the multi-campus church and experienced tremendous growth in the ministry that I led.  In a year from that moment I went from thinking I wasn't going to make it through another day at the church to thinking I could be there for my entire career.

This was a make or break moment and without question I would not be where I am today had it not been for this incident.  To experience any kind of break through we must persevere many challenges that come our way.  We must overcome trials and circumstances that come our way.

What is one Inciting Incident that you have experienced that has shaped who you are today?


This post is part of a group blogging project celebrating the release of Inciting Incidents (Moody Press), a book featuring the stories of six creatives who share honestly about surviving life’s difficulties while attempting to do great things. You can visit the “Share Your Story” section of IncitingIncidents.Org to check out posts from other synchroblog contributors, or visit the sites of the authors:Sarah CunninghamJeff GoinsDave HickmanBlaine HoganTracee PersikoStephanie SmithMandy Thompson and David Wenzel. In addition, you can hear more about the project in this NPR-style interview series by Moody Radio.   


Also, if you pick up the book in the first two weeks, Moody will give you a bundle of free resources, including two full-length e-books. The book is available immediately at AmazonBarnes and Noble or Christian Book.