Looking back on it now, I think I had taken the people as far I could take them, at least in that season of life.
I loved being a pastor. And still I knew something, in that season, was missing. My church was running somewhat smoothly I suppose, but the season was closing. I could feel it.
A hunter knows seasons. We live by their rhythm.
Life is full of seasons, if you'll think about it. These chapters of the soul that ebb like elusive spiritual tides calling us further out. And it was there in 2006 that I knew the Author of my faith was putting pen to paper and crafting a new chapter designed for me.
I knew down deep what the chapter's title would be, and yet if I'm being transparent, I had a hard time looking it in the eye. It was full of nothing but the unknown.
I'd been in traditional church ministry all my career. In terms of ministry education I've gone about as far as a man can go. That's me with my dad the day I graduated from seminary. I was pastoring a church. Had just gotten married. Life was perfect. If you're one to like pedigrees and background vitas you can see more of that here.
Here I was, many years later, growing in a ministry career and loving it. For the most part.
To change all of that would be more than risky. To change at this juncture of my ministry career would be, to spectators anyway, a decision that didn't make sense at all.
I had a solid church. A solid staff. A huge office with its own bathroom, which in and of itself was enough to make a man consider his career options.
One thing I knew, though, was that a life without risk is a life never fully lived.
And I was determined to live with a heart fully alive.
A ship is safest tied up in a harbor, but being tied in a harbor is not the reason the ship was created.
One thing I knew for sure ... at least I'd always be able to look my sons square in the eye when they face their own Goliath and without pause say with conviction, "I know exactly what it feels like to have no clue of what happens next."
Fear is the thief of opportunity. And I was not going to live in fear.
On an quiet Sunday morning in the early Spring I spoke to my people, "For years I've told you that you must not be afraid to go where God calls you, and I feel like I'd be the pinnacle of hypocrites were I not to move in the direction God is calling me to go."
And so I resigned.
I knew that God was calling me to go reach hunters.
That's right. Hunters.
The hunting community was and still is one of the most untapped mission fields in North America. I know. I've done the research. You should have seen the responses I got from theological pontiffs overseeing my doctoral work when I told them that I wanted to craft a dissertation around hunting and missional approaches. No kidding. It was brutal.
It's been said that John Wesley spent a lot of his career going into the countryside preaching on horseback to farmers. It didn't sound that strange to me to make this move. It was a clear calling.
None of that was changing. You can watch some of that by clicking the video in the margin entitled "meet Jason."
I was still a preacher. Yes, still a minister. Just a different mission field.
I was 17 years old when I started preaching. In fact, to this day if you meet me for the first time and ask me, "What do you do?" I'm going to respond without hesitation, "I'm a preacher."
Yes, I preach. All across the nation at men's events, wild game dinners, and men's conferences.
I write books. You can see them here if you'd like.
I've been published several times over and I work with publishers to try and form gospel truths that grab the heart of a man seeking to find God through the maze of the hardwoods.
I produce film and media that target hunters, and I'm forever amazed at the imprint these projects create.
I do all of that ... yet with the single purpose of fulfilling a calling to use media to tell a kingdom story.
And I'll tell you this much, looking back, it was the best move I could have ever made.
I've produced projects that have shared the gospel with thousands upon thousands of men across North America. I've traveled the nation speaking to scores of men in conference settings - men who would never come to the average Sunday morning meeting.
I've seen the bank account low, and I've seen it full. I've looked through the camera lens filming hunts for mission projects in the Arctic Circle and thought, "I can't believe I'm getting paid to do this in the name of Jesus."
I've experienced incredible successes, and I've been confounded over mistakes and failures and rejection at times.
And yet none of the good and none of the bad - none of it - would have happened if I'd been afraid of the risk of the unknown.
I don't know where the path leads next.
I do know that I'm not scared to take it.
The Author knows how it's going to end. And that's sovereign enough for me.