Things I’ve Learned From Working For MY Church…

Things I’ve Learned From Working For MY Church…

If you went back in time 10 years ago and told me I’d be working for a Church today, let alone a Church I love, I would have laughed in your face. I thought God was an entity that punished you for not following His rules. I wanted to do what I wanted to do, and that revolved around making a lot of money and climbing the corporate ladder. Excessive Pride & Money…the very things that lead to a less fulfilling life.

Today I wish I had embarked on that path a long time ago.

God is like that though.

First, He wants you to want to go on the path. He will never force you, and He will never love you less for not doing it sooner. Like any good parent.

Second, depending on how far you went down the wrong road, you have to make the trek back onto His path. There’s no Chutes and Ladders shortcut. I’ve found it usually takes a lot longer than I wish it would be, but every single time it was all perfectly timed. You find out there was work you had to do on yourself and He had to do on you all along that path.

I could write a whole book on how He got me here…but that’s for another time.

So after 4 months of working for Saddleback Church as a Project Manager for the Creative Services team, I felt it was a good time to talk about what I’ve learned.

Let’s get the negative out-of-the-way real quick…

The enemy CONSTANTLY attacks every member of our Church team. Physically, mentally and emotionally. He knows we’re doing great work and he hates every bit of it. This has been a very emotionally draining job because the enemy tries to frequently convince me that because of my past mistakes, I don’t deserve to work at Saddleback Church. I wasn’t sure what people meant by this during the interview process, but I get it now. Working for the Church is NOT for the faint of heart/soul. The enemy will never win though, not with God on my/our side.

With that done, let’s look at the positives of it all and why I wish I had gotten here a lot sooner.

  1. The corporate ladder is GONE…
    Your focus is on using your God-given talents to do great work. Gone for me are the days of trying to do something to stand out from the crowd to be recognized so I can go another rung up. Everything I do is to either help spread God’s love, or help my team out. I still get recognition which is nice, but it’s for personal satisfaction not advancement.
  2. Grace is practiced daily…
    It’s practiced by every single person, myself included. We all make lives challenging for our co-workers, but in most corporate environments your trespasses and those of others are noted on some mental note-board. Those trespasses are used later either to climb another rung, or to manipulate you later. In my Church the initial frustration is expressed, but then you work together to work better together as you move forward. It took me awhile to get used to mistakes not being career landmines, but once I did my stress level was significantly reduced.
  3. Humility is seen as a strength, not a weakness…
    Make a mistake in corporate America and admit to it? You’re typically seen as weak. Make a mistake in your work for the Church? Our Pastor Rick Warren wants us to! He has publicly stated that he encourages us to make one mistake a week.  The only caveat is that we have to learn from them and not make them again. I’ve owned up to every mistake I’ve made and each time my co-workers/managers have looked at me as a stronger person, they show me grace & forgiveness, then we move on.
  4. It’s about RELATIONSHIPS…
    There’s always work to be done, and you do need to make sure you get done what needs to get done. They don’t want your head down and focused on work the whole time though. At Saddleback, talking to your co-workers in and out of your department is strongly encouraged. I don’t have just the typical water cooler chit-chat. I’ve had some amazingly deep conversations with others. Souls have been bared and love is extended each and every time. I’ve prayed with them, they’ve prayed over me. My team (some of them in the pic) have become my second family. God help the person who tries to mess with/hurt them.
  5. It’s about faith in Him to get things done…
    On average every week we get about 35-40 requests for some creative services piece. This is on top of cranking out a bulletin that gets customized for all 12 of our California campuses. There are Mondays I look at our production board and wonder how we’re going to get it all done. That’s when our team turns to God and says “Your Will Be Done”. For a couple of hectic weeks I added God as a member of every project and a label that said “God’s Will Be Done”. Every single thing  that needed to get done for Him, got done. The only way it happened was because of Him.
  6. It’s about who God is molding you to become…
    We recognize that God has us where we are for a reason because He is using us in some way shape or form at that time to serve Him. We have talents that make us as individuals and a team better. Our leadership believes this strongly and provides us the guidance we need (through His direction) to help God mold us into what He wants us to become.
  7. Prayer and talking about God is an everyday part of work life…
    You’re probably going #duh of course you do that in a Church. After 20 years in corporate America, it’s different for me and provides daily refreshment. In today’s society talking about God or praying together in the corporate environment is often seen as weird, or oddly enough even a weakness. It’s nice to openly talk about Him and the good work He is doing. Now we don’t all go around constantly blessing each other, quoting scripture, singing worship songs through the halls (although the Worship team appropriately does sing in the cubicles on the other side of us), and praying at set times throughout the day. All of it is done when the spirit moves us or when we need to draw on His strength.
  8. A paycheck is an honor, not an expectation…
    A paycheck used to be something I would expect to get as a representation of the hard work I put in. Like many others there were times where I felt like it wasn’t enough. Today it’s become a blessing and the icing on the cake. I love my work so much, it’s a bonus to get paid to do what I do.
  9. No matter what it is you are doing as part of your work, it ALL has meaning…
    My work used to revolve around the goal of helping either the company  I worked for or others to make more money. Today my work is used to reach out to others who are trying to get through today’s world on their own strength, instead of leaning on God. It’s used to encourage those that do believe in Him, to keep leaning on and learning from Him. IT IS THE MOST FULFILLING WORK I HAVE EVERY DONE. When things get challenging at work, it’s awesome to think about God being proud of my work. It’s feels great to think of the others who will be with me in Heaven because I helped get a flyer printed, or a sign put out for an event. Because of the work that my team, my Church and I do every day, lives are literally saved.
  10. I am loved for who I am, by EVERYONE…
    I have had the fortune to work with many great people, and on many great teams. I have been cared for, loved on and supported by so many in my career. There were many times though where I felt like others thought I was odd, or just didn’t get me. I so often felt like a obtuse peg trying to be fit into a round hole. It made for really uncomfortable work environments. I finally feel like I found my obtuse hole. While I’m sure my quirks, personality and humor may not always be loved, I as a person truly feel loved and wanted by all.

Yeah, that’s a lot from just 4 months. It’s pretty exciting to think about what could come from the next 4 months.

To my team I say thank you. Thank you for your love, support, encouragement and friendship. I love you all more than you’ll ever know. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us. #TEAMMARCOMCSFORLIFE

From Pain Comes Joy…A Letter To My Seven Year Old Self…

Hey there Chris, it’s me, well really it’s you, but like 36 years in the future. No, dude, it’s not that old.

I know right now you’re going through a lot of pain. Mom and Dad are getting divorced, and your life is turned upside down.

So since I know how you like news delivered, first I’m going to tell you the bad news.

Before I do, you need to know NONE OF THIS is your fault.

You didn’t do anything wrong. You are a great kid and this is all Mom and Dad’s fault.

So the bad news…this is all going to be long, hard and drawn out. You won’t know what to do and there won’t be much help you get dealing with your pain and frustration. You are going to be unique among your friends in that you’ll have divorced parents. Fortunately, or unfortunately you won’t be alone in that boat for much longer.

Mom and Dad are going to keep fighting. A lot.

They’re going to hate each other and send really bad messages to each other using you as the messenger.

There’s going to be court stuff that goes on, that stresses Mom out and you’re going to try and be helpful and help her out and get involved. You really shouldn’t, but I know us. You’re going to anyways.

 

I wish I could say, that’s it. It’s not.
I’m sorry, but you need to know.

Dad is going to get re-married. You’re going to get a step-mom, a step-brother and eventually a half-brother. You’re going to hurt a lot as you watch Dad give them more love and attention than he seems to give you. There are happy times there, but it’ll seem more hurtful than happy.

I know you’re thinking, I’m never going to get a divorce. I won’t make my kids go through this, but I’m sorry to say it’s going to happen to you too. It’s going to be painful, expensive and stressful.

Your mind has got to be racing right now, trying to think of ways to avoid all of the pain that lays ahead of you. I know this is a lot to ask a 7 year old, but I need you to be strong.

Right now you see God as someone to be afraid of. Someone that won’t let you into heaven unless you do EVERYTHING right.

So here’s the first of the good news.

He’s not like that at all! God is an amazing being and He’s watching over you, even when you turn away from Him. You’re going to come to know Him and find strength from Him in so many different ways. Think of God like “The Force”, just without the ability to do Jedi mind tricks or wield a lightsaber.

I want you to remember this scripture, because it’s going to help you through days when you’re not sure you’re going to make it through.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4 NIV)

Want more good news?

You’re going to have a great kid named Josh. He’s incredibly smart, loving and is into Legos. He’ll even enjoy Star Wars with you. He is going to make you so proud.

There’s more.

You’re going to meet and marry an amazing woman named Jennifer.

No, it’s not the Jennifer you live next to right now. It’s a different Jennifer. But it’s kind’ve cool because you’re going to have your first kiss with Jennifer next door and your last first kiss will be with a Jennifer.

She’s going to have a daughter named Kaylin who you’re going to love. She’s going to be the daughter that you always wanted.

She will slowly but surely get into Star Wars as well, she’s even going to get to the point where she knows more about some of the characters than you do. Crazy ehh?

Wanna hear something even cooler and you might even think I’m nuts?

You’re going to become amazing friends with Kaylin’s Dad Rommel and Step-Mom Lisa.

You’re going to become such good friends that you’ll wind up greeting each other with genuine hugs. You’re going to enjoy spending time with them and talking with them. You’ll even play around with Kaylin’s little half-sister Madelyn.

This is actually all of you together celebrating Kaylin’s birthday…

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You’re all going to take Kaylin to a Divorced Kids Care class at Saddleback Church and you’re going to see how kids that are in your situation get the help they need. I wish I could bring you from the past to take this class, but we still can’t travel through time.

Wanna hear something even crazier? Rommel is going to support you getting a job at Saddleback Church. Yes, you will be that close.

You’re going to be part of this amazing Step-Family Small Group and meet Paul, Michelle, Tiffany, Aaron, Paddy, and Christina. They will be friends who are there to support you and your wife through the challenges you’ll go through together. You’re going to be there for them too and it’ll make life that much sweeter.

And that’s when all of the horrible stuff that you’re going through right now will make sense. You’ll come to understand what that scripture means.

You may wonder why God doesn’t just stop it all, but there is the beauty, He gives us all free will. We can do what we want, He doesn’t try and control us. He provides guidance, but it’s up to us to take it. Mom and Dad have been oferred it, but they’re not taking it. He’s going to give it to you too and you won’t take it for awhile.

But He’s working on setting your path right to make up for the mistakes that Mom, Dad, you and others will make in your life. He’s going to give you the strength to make it through and He’s going to take everything and give you what we have today.

Your life WILL BE BETTER for having gone through it and you’re just going to have to trust me on that.

On top of that you’re going to be an inspiration to others. You’ll give other kids the hope that they can have a happy life after divorce and show other parents how divorced life doesn’t need to be a fight. To drop their selfishness and focus on making a better life for their kids.

I’m sorry for everything that you’re going through right now Chris. I wish I could take all the pain away, but we need it to get to where we are today and to make it through the challenges we’re going to face in life. I promise you it’s all totally worth it.

Just know, you’re an amazing kid. You are loved and you will make it through.

Love,

Your Future Self

P.S. Empire Strikes Back is going to ROCK! It’ll actually become your favorite and there’s this awesome moment you won’t see coming. There are also  5 more Star Wars movies that are going to come out between then and now. Star Wars will go on for a very long time and you’re going to find a lot of hope and inspiration in it.

Love and Marriage vs. Life Challenges

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Three years ago I committed my life to this beautiful woman and our life together as husband and wife started off in the best possible way. We were in love. Our kids loved each other. We had good paying jobs. We had an amazing wedding surrounded by our family and friends, and then headed off on a dream honeymoon.

Anyone with half a brain knows that life will throw challenges at you and your marriage. But despite that, there is nothing that can really prepare you for those challenges or how to handle them when they occur. God knows, we didn’t fully realize what was ahead of us.

We’ve had a lot of AMAZING things happen to us and so many good memories that have been made. But challenges have come whether we liked them or not.

Over the past three years we’ve dealt with job losses (hers last year, mine this year), job changes (4 for her, 2 for me), credit card bills that got out of control, crazy rent increases, my autistic son moving in/starting college, and my depression rearing its ugly head once more. This is all on top of the regular challenges that affect every marriage.

CHALLENGES SUCK.

But today as I reflect on the past 3 years as a married couple (4 years as a couple), I’m not reminded of the bad. I see the woman who has stuck by my side and continued to love me, truly for better or worse.

I know living with me is no cup of tea everyday, but she still chooses to do it.
She still does it with a smile on her face and love in her heart.

She does it when she makes silly faces or belts out some tune off-key.

She does it when she cleans dishes or makes a meal.

She does it when she holds me and says that everything is going to be alright, even thought it feels like the world is crumbling around us.

She has placed her absolute faith, trust and love in me and believes in me when I don’t even believe in myself.

Sometimes, I question why (because my mind is whack like that) but I just try and accept/appreciate the fact that she does, and hasn’t failed to in the 4 years we’ve been together.

8 years ago I saw the movie Juno and came to love the following line…

“Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.”

I had wondered if it was possible to find a person like that, or if it was another movie fairy tale.

Today I realize it’s no fairy tale and I’ve got that kind of person.

So today I say to the woman who is still just a beautiful today as she was 4 years ago. Thank you.

Thanks for choosing me to be your husband.
Thanks for loving me as much as you have and continue to.
Thanks for sticking by me and continuing to believe that the “sun still shines out my ass”.

Happy Anniversary Honey. Here’s to the rest of our life.

I love you Jennifer Lynn Tellez. Yesterday, Today and Always.

The Wonderfully Perfect Family Mess

When my wife and I got married, seeing as we were joining two families we decided to involve the kids in the ceremony. We like many other re-married couples with kids, wanted to show it wasn’t just about the two of us. It was about ALL of us.

After searching through all of the possibilities, we decided on using a special picture frame that held sand. Each of us would have our own color sand to represent us.

The big day came and the kids and we took turns pouring our sand into the frame. Kaylin first with her usual pink, followed by Josh’s “Mario” red. Jenny came next with her favorite color green, and I completed it with my favorite blue.

20121111 - 462 of 1134 - IMG_9455Once we were done, we had created a PERFECT and beautiful pyramid of sand.

20121111 - 476 of 1134 - IMG_9464Soon after we were officially a family, and went to celebrate with family and friends.

As the celebration wound down, I spotted Kaylin carrying around the frame, except now instead of the perfect pyramid it was a big jumbled mess.

Me: “Kaylin, what are you doing?”

Kaylin (with a super innocent face): “Mom said I could mix it up.”

I looked over at my wife

Me: “Babe?”

Jenny: “Yeah, it’s fine..”

Me: “Okay, Kaylin, just be careful with it, don’t let it break”

I walked away very frustrated. I had loved how it looked and the symmetry of the lines. It was going to look gorgeous on our mantle. For a brief instance I thought we could do it again. Then realized the significance of doing it would be lost.

As time went on, it sat there on our mantle, still missing the rest of the sand and in its big mixed up state.

photo 2I’d glance at it and some of the frustration would return.

Then one day after we had been through another one of the family challenges life had thrown at us, it hit me.

This mixed up state is exactly what being a family is all about. In our case it’s 4 different personalities, preferences, attitudes and beliefs all working together.

Sometimes we’re clashing or revolving around each other in what I believe is best described as controlled chaos.

Then there’s the incredibly awesome times where we’re blended together so strong that we’re super bright and vibrant. We’re more colorful together than we are apart, and we create colors, and joy that some people would never think of.

So after almost a year and a half later I finally added in the remaining sand. A little more of Kaylin, a smidge more Josh, a helping of Jenny and a healthy amount of myself. Then I shook it up really well to come up with a unique pattern that will never be duplicated but so aptly reflects all of us.

I don’t expect the sands to stay in the same place and have no doubt that as time moves, and we change that it too will change. We’ll have our messes. We’ll have our perfection. We’ll have our jumbled states of chaos and happiness. Most importantly we’ll have what’s most important, an amazing family built on the love God has for us, and the love we have for each other.

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Happy 35th Birthday My Love!

My dearest Jenny,

Today I along with your daughter, step-son, parents, friends, family and everyone you’ve touched over the past 35 years celebrate a day that has wonderfully impacted our lives.

Over these 35 years you’ve accomplished so much and you continue to do so with each and every day.

You are an amazing mom to Kaylin, balancing love, patience, tenderness and caring discipline to help her become an incredible young lady. Being a single mom has not been easy with numerous challenges thrown at you, yet each and every one you’ve overcome while at the same time teaching Kaylin valuable lessons about life and love.

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You’ve taken that same incredible skill as a parent and shared it with Josh. I know he’s learned a lot from you already and has experienced every bit of that same love you give to Kaylin.

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Despite having a couple thousand miles in between you and your family you are still a supportive, caring and loving daughter, sister and aunt. You do everything for them that’s within your means and even then you’ll go above and beyond that. You may not be able to see them as often as you’d like, but they know how much you love them and how you’ll do anything within your power to be there for them each and every day.

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Friends like the ones you have are not easily gained, and even harder to keep. You are always there for them with a listening ear, a loving hug, cheers of support or a wealth of reasonable advice and guidance. You love them like an extended set of family, each and every day, with every Facebook post, phone call and text message you make. To them you’re not just a friend, you’re a sister to them all with a big heart and bright smile.

And then there’s the woman you are to me….

You give so much to so many others, yet you still manage to give me so much each and every day. I get everything they all get and so much more!

You are patient and understanding with me like no one has ever been before. I can seemingly drive you nuts, yet your love for me never falters.

You have shown me love.  Pure, true, wonderful and totally unselfish love that I thought was just something that was made up in movies.

You continually inspire me and help me see how much more I am capable of accomplishing. Just when I think I haven’t got anything left, you help me find that I can do so much more and then help me do it.

You have made and continue to make me a better man in every way shape and form.

I cannot wait until the day I get to call you my wife, and look forward to getting to spend the rest of my life with you.

Jenny, you are so much to so many people and none of us will ever be able to properly show or tell you how much you truly mean to us. Had it not been for that day 35 years ago that God blessed the world with you, life just wouldn’t be the same.

Happy Birthday My Love! May God bless you (and us) with many, many, many more!

Happy 15th Birthday Son!

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Today is my little boy’s 15th birthday!

While I’ve wished him Happy Birthday on the phone and on Facebook and we celebrated this last weekend, I had to blog about it too.

C’mon…what kind of tech Dad would I be if I didn’t blog about it?

While growing up I certainly had my dreams about being a Navy pilot or Astronaut, I also had a dream that not many young boys have. I wanted to be a Dad. Even moreso I wanted to have a son.

That dream was realized 15 years ago when Josh came into the world and was placed into my arms. I can still vividly remember every part of that day, from the way the weather was to the sounds and feelings I went through. It was and will always be one of the greatest moments of my life.

Over those 15 years we’ve had good times and we’ve had bad times. He and I have both grown in so many wonderfully different ways and we continue to grow every day. While like most teenagers he can be frustrating, the majority of the time he makes me incredibly happy and proud. He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s loving, he’s caring and he has an incredible spirit that I like to think is a result of the best parts of me.

I am proud and honored to be Joshua Tellez’ dad and happy to again celebrate a dream come true.

Happy Birthday (Son/Bugaboo/Buddy/Kid)! I love you and thank you for being my son. Love, Dad.