What shaped how you think and feel about God and church and ministry (heart)?
This is a loaded question if I've ever heard one - one that cannot just be answered simply but must be answered extremely carefully. Not for fear of offending anyone, but for fear of being taken the wrong way. Yikes. Here goes.
What shaped how I think and feel about God?
Well, to be frank, the world did. God is not a being I can talk to face to face and see his reactions to the questions I may have for him. I cannot have a two-sided conversation about politics with God. I cannot debate him about the state of the church (although I've tried). So, how I think and feel about God has only come through revelation - general and specific. How I feel about God is through seeing what he created. That is the greatest insight we have into the complicated nature of his spirit. What a person creates - in music, art, writing - tells you who they are. God is no different. So my general revelation of him (nature) and my specific revelation of him (his word) shaped my heart towards God. The world and what he created taught me what to think and feel about him.
What shaped how I think and feel about church?
Crap. We are actually going to discuss this at church? I'm so screwed. *Deep breath*
There are three major influences:
1.) The people (which includes, but is not restricted to, their actions, policies, and leadership)
2.) How God himself originally set the church up to be through Paul, Peter and the other disciples.
3.) And if I'm being completely honest, "The Purpose Driven Church" by Rick Warren.
The interesting thing about these influences is that they come from what appears to be opposite sides of the spectrum. One leads me to think negatively about what the church has become, the other wistful for what it should be, the other excited of what it could actually become.
What I think and feel about the church is a post for another time.
What shaped how I think and feel about ministry?
Actually experiencing it is a big factor for me. God gave me the "okay" to step into a ministry position, and how he's used that experience has shaped my heart towards it's purpose. My experiences have completely altered any preconceived notion I had about ministry. What I didn't expect is that people in ministry must be tough as nails with Mother Theresa compassion. We're not allowed to show our tough side (Heaven forbid! That would be rude!. We must be tenacious but willing to let go, thick-skinned yet completely aware and sensitive to others, stubborn yet flexible, driven yet servant-hearted. You must be able to fix everything, make up your mind on the spot, continually push forward even when many are pulling you back, and you must, at all times, remember it's not about you or them, but about God.
That's a tall order. To have one face for the ministry and another to God. I don't think that makes people in ministry hypocritical, and I don't really even mean that it's about having two "faces", either. There are certain emotions and thoughts you should not show to those you are in ministry with (especially if you are their leader) as well as those to whom you are ministering. As an artist, I have no trouble saying that it's not fun to hide. It's not fun to have to scold people with a reminder that it's not about them and their personal preference or even their level of comfort.
The thing about ministry is that it's not always going to feel good. I feel the same way about worship, also. The best, most God-honoring worship is not the kind that makes you cry and/or puts a smile on your face. It the kind of worship that brings you close to God, your sin is exposed, and the desire to change to be more like him is brought to the forefront of your life. While this may not be the purpose of worship, it is one of it's side-effects. And that's not comfortable; that's hard. But it is honoring to God. Other types of ministry aside from worship can have the same effect if our hearts are open. That's what shapes how we think and feel about God - and ultimately, ministry.