Serving | Simply Insider
Tony Myles

Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, conference speaker, author, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

It’s difficult to forget the smell of carpet that you’ve wept into.

My family had moved in with my in-laws—into a small modular home while trying to figure out my next step in ministry. The pastor at the church I’d just left said I hadn’t grown the youth group fast enough: his goal was 200 within two years… I’d only nurtured it from 35 students to 179 in that time. Apparently that was a failure, and I was now jobless.

To add fuel to the fire, I’d experienced a significant letdown in ministry three years before that. I was forced to resign from a church because I didn’t vote for a new senior pastor who’d forced his way into leadership from his staff role. Between both experiences, I had a lot of reasons to hate the idea of church, and ministry in general.

So why was I weeping?

carpetI’d just received a phone call from a friend who served at the church where the senior pastor had nudged me out years earlier. He shared how they were in an unexpected crisis since the senior pastor had just been mandated to take a leave of absence due to an addiction issue he’d been hiding. The church hoped he’d be personally and professionally restored, but had an immediate need for someone to fill the pulpit. My friend asked if I’d be willing to be a guest speaker for a few weeks.

“Absolutely,” I replied without thinking about it. As we hung up the phone, though, I found myself sitting in silence for a few moments.

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  • I expected to feel justified.
  • I expected to feel judgmental.
  • I expected to feel like a Savior.

Crumbling to the carpet, I instead began to weep from a place deep inside of me that was surprisingly broken in all the right places. Even though I hadn’t been a part of this flock for at least three years, I felt its pain.

Apparently, I was having my own crisis.

During the three years that had passed (and including what had happened at the church I’d just left), I’d realized some things:

  • You can’t always control how other people respond to you, but you can control how you will respond to them: If another Christian chooses to act with immaturity or selfishness, that’s his/her sin; if I choose to hold resentment or gossip about it instead of work it out in accordance with Matthew 18, that’s my sin. It’s why I eventually had conversations with both pastors from those churches to resolve past issues.
  • Immaturity that you see in others may keep you from seeing immaturity in you: As I shared in last week’s post, it’s easy to become so self-righteous about what matters most that you become blinded to what actually matters most. Who really calls you out on your blind spots?
  • The local church is a part of the Church: Any Christ-centered congregation is a mixture of “God and humanity,” which means it has all the positive potential of God and all the negative potential of humanity. You have to choose which piece you will nurture. I get the sense the Lord loves it when we help his Bride stand up after she’s fallen over.

I showed up for my first week of teaching and loved on people. I did this again the second and third weeks. By that point, the former senior pastor gave every indication he wasn’t going to return. The church asked if I would be its interim senior pastor—a ministry that I took on for nine months. There was talk at one point about offering me the role of senior pastor, but I excused myself from that discussion to help clean the slate for someone else.

After that experience, another church called me up and asked me to serve them as an interim pastor. They had their own crisis and heard how I’d helped the other congregation. I served them for six months and watched God grow my heart even more for His Church and its future.

battlefieldmedicThere will be seasons of your life that you are a battlefield medic for the Church.

You may yearn to be a specialist who gets a nice office or a padded paycheck, or even a volunteer who finds worth in never going anywhere. Sometimes God simply wants you running from one random explosion to another in order to tend to the wounded and raise them back up to health. This is full of stress, but if that’s where you’re needed then that’s where you’re needed… whether you’re directly working with teenagers, or simply helping the Church itself have a healthier future.

That’s the ironic ending to this story for me… a new beginning. I’m now a Lead Pastor intent on helping adults care about students, while at the same time volunteering in my church under our youth pastor’s leadership in order to still personally impact teenagers. Your story may not end up as mine did, but I wonder if it will end up as you’re planning it to.

Let the next crisis break you in all the right places… even if it means you end up smelling Jesus in the carpet.

Thank you for loving students!


Psst! He’s also a breakout session leader extraordinaire at Simply Youth Ministry Conference



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  • Travis Welch says:

    What I love about you Tony is this: I met you in a breakout session last March in Indy for SYMC and listened. I ate up everything you had to say. Here I am now, listening, well, reading, eating it up again. You really seem to be genuine and humble. You not only have my attention, but my respect as well. Thank you for all that you share.

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      Travis, reading this and taking it in was such oxygen for me today. Thanks for sharing this, probably without realizing how God would use its timing to spur me on. Really hope to connect again in person sometime. If you’re at SYMC14, let’s grab a meal sometime. I’d love to hear more of your story.

  • Kevin Holloway says:

    Thanks for encouraging me to go to work today! I’ve tried to continue to focus on him, and not be distracted by the attacks! Its hard when your leader doesn’t have your back, and puts people before you. But God is good, and I’m standing on his Word today. Kevin

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      BOOM! Satan just got kicked in the teeth… because you went to work today. 🙂 Wow, Kevin. Keep standing on His Word – kneel on it – lay on it – it’s the only foundation.

  • “There will be seasons of your life that you are a battlefield medic for the Church.”

    I can so resonate with this, Tony! Thanks for your wisdom, yet again, on a touchy subject, and on how to be a servant-leader like Christ.

    Being a “battlefield medic” (great name btw) is tough, and at times costly. But you’re right, sometimes these are the areas God calls us into – not for our glory but for His.

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      For sure, Shawn. And I love seeing how you’re navigating that in your own life/ministry. I’m reminded of an episode of “Band of Brothers” where this guy just stands in a forest by himself doing nothing. Then there’s an explosion, and he starts running toward it instead of away from it. Right after that, another explosion… and he runs toward that one, too. Man… I hope that’s us.

  • David Perez says:

    “I get the sense the Lord loves it when we help his Bride stand up after she’s fallen over.”

    I’ve DJ’d enough weddings where the bride has had a little “too much” and got a little sloppy towards the end of the night. And although there were people who stood idly by with judging glances, the majority of people showed real concern and did not want the bride to look bad or get hurt. So they did whatever it took to help and make sure she didn’t make a fool of herself, even though there were some brides who fought against the help.

    How true is this of the Church? Thanks for your thoughts, as always, Tony!

  • Rik says:

    Great post Tony!
    Thanks for the reminder that it is OK to be broken and that God will grow us through these times if we allow Him.

  • David says:

    Thank you for the eye opener. I have served as a youth pastor for over 20+ years mostly volunteer. I have had a great deal of trouble landing a full time position as a youth pastor mostly because churches don’t want to deal with a hearing impaired worker. To this day I have had very little respect as a leader. I even have a MARE from Southwestern Seminary! You have given me a new prospective on what God is doing in my life.
    Thank you for the post

    • Tony Myles Tony Myles says:

      Wow, David. I can’t imagine the challenges you face… but I am so inspired that you’re facing them. That alone shows Jesus to people. We tend to think to that we have to have a certain platform, but sometimes carrying our cross is platform enough. Praying you break through what is in front of you in the best timing possible.

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