Today was nothing exceptionally special – my family was able to get into the car without a major meltdown (or a fight) and we cruised to Buckhead Church late (as usual).
At this point I don’t mind so much as I can always blame my two beautiful daughters for being the cause of tardiness (and who can honestly stay mad after looking at those two faces?) as my wife and I stroll to the front section on the right at the 9:00am service. There’s always space and the greeters are always happy to see us anyways.
Of course, since we were a bit late we made it just in time to see the second song finish up and participate in the final song. The thing is that for me, even after being in church for so many years, it still takes a song (or two) to “get into it” and so I’ll stand there with my arms crossed slightly swaying a bit more self-conscience than aware of what’s actually going on. Thankfully I know the songs well enough to sing them without really singing them.
Rodney appears on the stage as the final song closes, asks us to sit down (*whew* – no more slightly-swaying anxious asian male who’s kinda singing but not really in the front row for everyone to see) and I breathe a sigh of relief.
We make it through a video, some general announcements, and I catch Rodney saying:
“… something something something … something something … something… … something… … … … … and then we’ll hear from our Campus Pastor Billy Phenix… … something something something… … …”
“Wait a moment…” I say to myself, “I thought Andy was taking us through the series…?” I’m not upset or disappointed; just slightly surprised like when I go to my favorite frozen yogurt spot and they tell me that they are out of vanilla tart.
And then up comes Mr. Phenix (love his last name, and I like how it’s not spelled phoenix) and I nod my head, mentally pump my fist, and quietly say “Let’s go Billy. You got this.”
It’s at that very moment when I realize that I’m all in for my Campus Pastor. I believe in Phenix. I’m down for the Billy.
But it wasn’t this super-spiritual moment as if the heavens parted – it was just a slight shift in my thinking that was considerable enough for me to realize that something did, in fact, happen and that the man who has been leading my local church would see it faithfully through until his time in this role and with these unique responsibilities came to an end.
And although it may have been a slight shift in my mind it was a significant shift in my heart – I love Billy, I love his family, and I love that he’s so different than the previous Campus Pastor (who wisely left the ministry in very capable hands to head up another campus a few miles north).
Billy has never won me over with eloquent speech or with a flare for dramatics, he’s not a dogmatic in-your-face speaker nor does he run in “popular” circles of christendom. He’s not super-polished (but he’s getting there) nor does he wear skinny jeans and attempt to make me cry at the end of every message nor is he the “guy’s guy” or “man’s man” that feels compelled to remind the audience that he is, in fact, a guy and that he’s going to talk from a “guy perspective.”
No, he’s none of those things – and that’s why I’m for him – because he’s just like you and me.
It’s worth mentioning that I had the pleasure of working with Billy for a time but I know that my opinion of him would be the same even if I didn’t have the opportunity to work with him closely. He treats everyone fairly – there doesn’t appear to be a layered approach to being personable and relational, no hierarchies to mess with and no lesser-greater mind-games to jump rope with. He’s a normal person with normal person issues who just so happens to get to share his perspective from the stage a few times a week. But you’d also see him in the hallways, before and after, talking with people just like you and me, and you’d never know he had just spoke in front of thousands.
I like that. My family likes that. And we’re glad that we stayed at Buckhead.
Here’s a quick video he shared a while ago that gives you a little bit more of him:
Love my church, love my Campus Pastor, and I’d love for you to get to know both. I know Billy would love it too.