AN INTERVIEW WITH CRAIG LOVELACE BY SARAH TEMPLE
Like so many of us, Craig Lovelace grew up in a sea of Legos. He was free to dream of planes and trains, creating new adventures with each colorful block. He imagined a world of travel, of creation and design, of how to build and dismantle and rebuild entirely new worlds around him.
Craig was raised in the church, attending regularly with his parents from the time he was born until the age of ten. His family was a member of a Nazarene Church in Yakima, complete with old school sermons and red velvet pews.
“I was probably one of the worst Nazarene kids of all time,” Craig recalled. He looked back and smirked, remembering all the times he would pretend to be asleep to try to get out of going to church, hoping that his mother would give up on making him get ready and let him stay home to build with his Legos. It never worked out.
When he was ten, he watched his parents’ marriage shake. His inquisitive mind took over and he began to question everything around him. He was curious about the girls in school and began to build his world on relationships. One particular girl caught his attention, but when it fell apart he was left deeply wanting more.
Craig went to college at the University of Idaho and joined a fraternity where a brother shared the gospel with him. It was the good news he was looking for. One fall evening at a Resonate service, Keith spoke about a God that couldn’t be put in a box. Craig realized he had been putting God in his box for his whole life and he didn’t want to any longer. “Okay God,” he prayed that night on the sleeping porch of his fraternity, “if you’re real, reveal yourself in a way that I can understand, but on your terms, because you are God.” Over the course of a few weeks, his heart softened. Friendships mended, issues resolved, and he knew it was more than a common coincidence. God had His hand in Craig’s life and everything had changed.
“If you want my life, take it all.”
In this process of handing control over to God, Craig began to grasp for any opportunity to grow. “I was the over-saved self-righteous kid in village and I think Jacob Dahl used to avoid me because I was too much.” While on solo road trips for his fraternity’s recruitment, God began to show him his passion for ministry as he listened to hundreds of hours of sermons from men like John Piper and Mark Driscoll.
By the spring he had changed his major from engineering to business, and again to education, and once more to English. He looked for every way to align himself to do the most he could to glorify God’s kingdom. He knew he was called to ministry and church planting, long before 21x21.
Craig and I both identify as INTJs on the Myers Briggs personality assessment. If you haven't taken it, you should, and you should make everyone you know take it with you. It'll keep you busy for hours.
INTJs are a relatively rare personality type. We are quiet, consumed with our own curiosities of the world and the people around us. Logical and creative, we dream of possibilities, building up others and seeking problems to solve. We crave deep connection, but are paradoxically challenged by it. It may make sense that we take a little time to warm up to others, we despise shallow living, and often we struggle to relate to those unlike us. And yet, we are hypersensitive to the judgement, pains, and trials of others.
When it comes to the lies of the enemy, Craig isn’t attacked head on. The enemy is sneaky and comes at the ones we love most. For Craig, that is his wife. As Kellie struggled with anxiety and panic attacks in the first couple years of ministry, he felt hopeless. Bearing the full weight of ministry, he believed the lie that if he couldn’t protect his wife then there was no way he could protect his church.
“I’ve been in a bit of a dry season, if I’m going to be really honest, for about a year now,” he reflects. “It’s not that God isn’t doing things in my life, but it has been a while since I’ve felt the emotional experience of being a Christian, but I know I am not promised that.” He sits back, almost as if to remind himself, to not seek those moments of emotional affirmation as the foundation of faith, but to root in the facts and truth that are bound in the Word. Those are the places where God says “this is who I am and this is what I’ve done.” Those are the unchanging promises, the truth that exists yesterday, today, and forever.
I was naive enough to think that pastors don’t have dry seasons. And I was even more naive to think that our pastor would not be so easily candid about it. Craig didn’t know it, but this was just the message I needed in my own season. Spring brings us a season of renewal, but it also brings us many questions. Perhaps you are thinking about what you will be doing for the summer, or graduation is looming and you are trying to soak in your last moments of college. So many in our church ask what God wants us to do with our lives - in this single season and in the greater story of the Kingdom. The honest answer is that, so long as it is wise and it honors the God we see in the Word, the choice doesn’t matter. Just go for it and trust that God is with you. We agonize so much about making the right decision, rather than making a decision and knowing that God is with us.
We must first seek His Kingdom, and His truth in the Word. The rest will come.
“I used to beg God for a neon sign about who I should marry and what I should do with my life, but now I know that is a genie-type god that doesn’t exist… Looking back, everything in the rear view mirror is so clear. Looking forward it’s hard to not try and seize control. My whole life I was seeking the next thing, and while that was good for me, I was so much more concerned about choosing the right thing rather than trusting that God was always with me.”
Somewhere within Craig, and I think in all of us, there still is the shadow of who we were in the first moments of our salvation. To be gung-ho for the Gospel is the most beautiful feeling in the world. We all need a gentle and fiery reminder of what it means to have been saved, and a reminder of how far we have come. God has given Craig an unshakable faith that He is always with him. Craig’s voice is sound and his vision leads our church closer to the bigger picture of 21x21. None of us knows where God is leading us, but that is much of the joy of obedience, of faith. We get to find out later what God had in mind, knowing that He was with us all along, building us up one Lego at a time.