“I will take it. I will take the ring.”
So said the fabled hobbit Frodo of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy after sensing the irresistible calling to attempt what seemed impossible to all.
With those fateful words, he began a new chapter in his journey — a quest that defied logic, surpassed all imaginations, and grew a faith in him he never knew he had.
And it all started with leaving the safety of the elvish haven of Rivendell.
It is a dangerous business going out your front door. ~ J. R. R. Tolkien
Today, I announce what God has been inwardly calling me to do for some time.
Today, I proclaim with as much faith as a I can muster: “I will take it, God. I will take your call and follow wherever it may lead.”
Today, I share why I am leaving Rivendell.
Why I Must Go
It has been my privilege to serve as part of a noble Kingdom quest these last dozen years as part of the stellar team at Cornerstone Christian Academy. It has been a rewarding experience beyond what words can express. I have formed friendships and bonds that I pray will transcend these earthly days. I’ve grown exponentially — because that’s what people do at Cornerstone.
Hopefully, along the way, I’ve been able to help others grow in their faith journey, as well. But God has called me to step out by faith in a new direction.
I don’t want to leave Rivendell. Not really.
But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. ~ (Gandalf) The Lord of the Rings
Cornerstone is truly an enchanting place where life-transforming discipleship takes place for God’s Kingdom. If you’re a parent anywhere near Cleveland, Ohio, you should click here to get the number for the school and beg them to let you enroll your children.
I am leaving what most would perceive as a safe, comfortable position as the principal of a blessed and successful Christian school, a ministry doing truly amazing work to make disciples who make disciples for Christ.
At Cornerstone, it has been my privilege to have a key hand in guiding curriculum and discipleship development that intentionally cultivates a Biblical world and life view — connecting real life with real faith.
Cornerstone’s synergistic partnership with my friend Hugh Hewitt on In, But Not Of Revised & Updated: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World is just one example of how we have been intentional about equipping students to thrive while finding and following God’s unique call for their lives.
It was my privilege both to develop the study guide for that book based on years of teaching the content at Cornerstone and to write the Forward for it.
A Word to the Critics
Now, I know how people are. If someone leaves anywhere — a church, a community position, their seat in the theater — we immediately make assumptions about their reasons for doing so. And because silence speaks, as I wrote here, we inevitably fill in the blanks with our own fears and insecurities.
So let me be clear: the school I am leaving has nothing to do with my decision to go. Well, maybe a little, but in a different way than you might suspect.
Because it truly is a dynamic place where authentic Kingdom growth happens everyday — the Rivendell of ministries — my decision was an excruciating one. It would have been much easier if the ministry I had poured my life into for the last dozen years was ineffective and failing. It’s not. It’s growing and thriving under superb leadership.
God’s Irresistable Calling
My decision is all about the irresistible call to better steward my God-given gifts of writing, thinking, speaking, and leading change to help people grow by connecting real life with real faith. That’s it. There’s nothing else to the story.
After much counsel and prayerful reflection, I decided to step up and amid the noisy commotion of a fallen world, answer simply, “I’ll take it.”
You can read more about the story of my internal journey here as God wrecked my comfortable plans with His call.
I confess it seems strange that God would choose me, poor hobbit that I am, to step out into a big world threatened by such deep and encroaching darkness. But it is His world. And I am His. So I must answer His call.
I have chosen to step out of my comfort zone to serve God’s work on a broader scale — to build and then speak from a wider platform that expands the borders of the Kingdom of heaven here on earth.
The Road Goes On and Ever On
We have chosen to get out of the good and comfortable land and obey God’s call — not really knowing where the journey will take us. We’ve got the general purpose clear but the specific path is, at this point, unknown. What roads we will take, where we will stop along the way, who we will meet, what we will eat — I think our Lord said He had all that covered. So we will not fear.
I say we, of course, because my amazing wife (her name is Faith for a reason) and six children are part of the fellowship on this journey — quest — thing. We’ve included our children in this because we believe they need to see the mighty hand of God at work as we answer His call by faith — with nothing wavering.
An Invitation to Join the Fellowship
I consider this calling to write, think, and speak of real life and real faith faith as a sacred quest. My prayer is that it not dwindle to just two, as Frodo’s did, but that it grow and continually expand as many more join who believe in the transforming power of Biblical ideas applied to real life. I invite you to join our community. Be part of the fellowship of this calling.
I know we’ll see splendid vistas we never dreamed existed back in the Shire. I know there’ll be dark days when the walls of Mordor loom before us. Perhaps some grotesque creatures will emerge to test our faith. But along the way, I hope we’ll become friends. Recall that the one who grew the most through Frodo’s quest was not Frodo, but Sam — the friend who came along to support.
Already God has opened doors for the vision to move forward. I blog about faith and culture at Patheos, the leading Internet destination for religious thought that reaches millions each month. I’ve been invited to write and think as a scholar with the Center for Cultural Leadership, an opportunity that requires God to raise support for His calling on my life. I’ve partnered with John Maxwell’s Equip Leadership team to train leaders in Guam.
Several e-books are in the works — well, let’s just say there’s never shortage of ideas. And I am always open to connecting with other Kingdom opportunities to create further synergy for Christ.
Join the Journey
But only if it will draw you closer to your own faith in God. If you sense the Spirit urging you to come along, come. I look forward to connecting with you on the journey. If I can help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
Here’s how you can be part this fellowship:
- Pray. If you do nothing else, it will be enough. “Prayer is the hand that moves the hand of God,” said E.M. Bounds. Pray that God will be glorified beyond what we can ask or imagine. Pray big prayers. We are. Both for us and the school where God is at work.
- Subscribe. It will be easy to pass over this request — but it is huge! Subscribe to this blog for practical helps to live real life with real faith and to my Patheos blog on faith and cultural issues. From a human standpoint, the greatest enemy of effective influence is obscurity. Good stuff just gets crowded out by our noisy culture. If you will commit to helping spread what I write, it will help immensely. It’ll only take your entering your e-mail address in the upper right of this page and then a click or two each day to share. You can start sharing now by passing along this post with some of the social media buttons below.
- Speaking. I love to teach. Check out my speaking page which will be growing in the coming days. If you think I might be a good fit at your church, school, retreat, special event, or international conference — or know someone who might have an opening — drop me a note through that page.
- Money. Yes, Kingdom work requires kingdom resources. I’m not concerned about it, because I’m confident of God’s calling on my life. It’s my privilege to offer you the opportunity to turn earthly treasure into heavenly gain in two ways in particular:
- Support my mission to train leaders with John Maxwell’s Equip Leadership team in Guam. Click here to find out more. Your one-time or regular support will help equip leaders on the other side of the world. Talk about impact!
- Support my calling to write, think, and speak as a scholar with the Center for Cultural Leadership. Through this on-going partnership, I will have the freedom to follow the Spirit’s lead in using my gifts while partnering with other like-minded thinkers and writers connecting real life with real faith. And you’re support will be tax-deductible. For now, if you think God may be positioning you to be blessed by supporting the calling in this way, just drop me an e-mail with CCL in the subject line. We’ll talk.
Look for my new e-book Finding the Curve: The Secret to Explosive Personal Growth in the coming weeks. I’ll be giving it away free — yes, free — to all e-mail subscribers.
See. It pays to subscribe. Just put your e-mail in the box in the upper right.
Update: Tune in to The Word 101.5 FM in Pittsburgh, Friday, August 17, at 5:10 PM. I’ll be rejoining John and Kathy during their excellent afternoon drive show to talk about this faith journey and “How To Know When It’s Time to Go.” (Additional media connections welcome.)
By the way, I’ll still be around at the school for a season and will be doing all I can to ensure an effective transition takes place.