In the fall of 2010, I was sitting in my hotel room in Las Vegas, surrounded by a group of reporters, editors, and photographers.
I was in my early twenties and a devout Christian, but it wasn’t an easy transition from the secular world to the more conservative, evangelical one I had been thrust into.
My parents had both recently died, and I hadn’t yet become fully indoctrinated.
As we listened to the story of my parents’ deaths, I thought, What a lot of pressure.
It’s a story that everyone knows, but few ever tell.
I’d just moved to New Orleans to join a church group that was expanding rapidly, and we were all curious about what it would mean for the church to grow.
I told the story about my father’s first sermon, in which he said, “God will never judge you or throw you into prison.
He will never abandon you, nor forsake you.
You will never be alone.
But you must have a voice.
You must be a leader.”
I’d never thought of myself as a leader, but this was an opportunity to do something.
My father told the group that as a missionary, he’d never met anyone with a bigger voice than him.
I couldn’t help but smile.
He was a great missionary.
He’d be a great leader.
And I thought to myself, This would be a really fun thing to do.
But then, as we were going to start the interview, I realized I was thinking about my dad.
After all, he was the one who’d told me to go to college.
And while I was certainly going to learn something about the world of faith, it was going to be my first experience as an active professional with a mission, so it was kind of an odd thing to start thinking about a job that was a career.
When I returned home, I had to write my dad a letter, which he promptly sent back.
He asked, “What is your job?
I just started my own church and it seems like it would be nice if you could teach.”
I was stunned.
I didn’t even know what to say to my dad about it.
He said, I don’t have a job, so I’m just going to do whatever I want to do.
“When I told my parents that I’d been a missionary in my first sermon and had to quit, they both looked at me with a blank stare.
I wasn’t even sure how to respond.
I don�t even know if my parents had any idea what I’d become.
My dad was a devout man, but I knew from his conversations with me that he was a very generous, caring man.
I knew I didn�t want to leave the church, so he asked if I would be willing to work for a few months.
I said, Sure.
The first few months were great, I said.
I went to the missionary training center, I taught in the Sunday school, I did missionary work.
I loved the job, but when I finally got home from the training, I found my parents were shocked.
I remember them calling me at the airport and saying, We don�tradition.
We don’t want your kind.
I said to them.
I think you just got kicked out of a church. They didn�ve seen how much I had grown.
And they were right.
I started working for a small company called Spirit Life Ministries, which I ended up becoming a pastor of, along with a handful of other pastors and teachers.
The biggest challenge I faced during that time was making sure I didn`t alienate any of the other pastors, as my ministry was the most prestigious.
As a pastor, you have to speak in tongues, you don�sit on Sundays and you have meetings, and you don`t have to get up early in the morning to give the blessing to the parishioners.
And the more you get up in the mornings, the more pressure you have on your congregation to live the life you preach, which was a hard pill to swallow.
But the bigger challenge was trying to make the message that I was preaching credible and the message I wanted to convey credible for the rest of the world.
One of the biggest challenges was keeping all the people who I wanted in the church.
I had a large congregation in New Orleans, so we had to work with people from other parts of the country, and that had to be done well, and it had to feel like I was giving back to my congregation, and people I was speaking to at church.
In the end, it worked out great.
I made a lot more money than I thought I would, and my work ethic and dedication to preaching improved.
And it didn� t take long before I started to feel more comfortable as a pastor.
The next step was getting more people to join the church through my work,