Pastor Steve preaches the Word of God in a very down to earth, practical style, often intermingled with great humor from his own life. His generous heart is expressed throughout the community, state, and world through the care and support of fire and police personnel, Make-A-Wish, Operation Smile along with a multitude of other organizations.
Pastor Steve and Cynthia Smothermon have been married for the past 29 years and are the proud parents of three children, with a growing number of grandchildren. Under their leadership, Legacy has become a church of excellence. It is a warm and welcoming family of believers who have a passion to see the lost come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Now ministering at four different locations, Legacy is a place where everyone can come and experience “the God of another chance”; where people can find healing and be set free from their past. It is a place where families can be restored and put back together stronger than ever.
Pastor Steve is seen as an outstanding voice in New Mexico. He has a heart and passion for strengthening and supporting the family. As founder of Voices for Family Values, he desires to see our Christian values stay alive for future generations.
Steve Smothermon is a man of passion and integrity with a “no compromise” view of the Word of God.
If Only I Could Be You
This article is an excerpt from Steve’s book, Big Problems, Bigger God. You can purchase this book on Amazon here.
Our problems can mess with our minds if we let them. For example, I used to hate my job before I entered the pastoral ministry. My patient wife will tell you that when I came home at night after working all day, we would never even talk about it. It was that bad of a problem. And it wasn’t as if the problem lasted for just a few months or even a few years. For ten years I worked at a job that drove me nuts-delivering packages all over Tulsa, Oklahoma, for United Parcel Service (UPS). Back then, their slogan was “What can Brown do for you?” Let me tell you, there were plenty of nights you would not have wanted to be anywhere near me when I answered that question.
My discontent with my job really had nothing to do with UPS though. It was a good-paying job that provided for my family – that’s more than a lot of folks have. No one was forcing me to work there. Sure, the summers are broiling in Oklahoma, so delivering packages in 90 percent humidity and 100-degree temperatures wasn’t my favorite thing to do. Then there were winters so cold that I would take off my boots and put my toes on the heater because they were frozen stiff from trudging through wet snow. I still can’t help but shiver just thinking about it.
But the problem was not with UPS. They even tried to promote me to management when I was just twenty-two years old. I was shocked because I would run my mouth all the time. I’d just pop off and say whatever I wanted. I told them candidly, “I’m a little shocked you would ask me to move to management.” I’ll never forget my boss’s reply: “Here’s the deal, Steve. Whether you go out happy or mad, you always do your job.”
The problem was that it wasn’t the job I wanted to be doing. I wanted to be in ministry, to be a pastor. I had a Bible college degree that I wasn’t using. The painful truth is that I didn’t see my job at UPS as a blessing or even as an opportunity. I chose to embrace the attitude of learned helplessness that I describe in chapter 2 of my book. In fact, I blamed God for my problem. I thought He was doing something to me, not doing something for me.
Many friends from my Bible college years were serving in ministry, while I was stuck delivering stuff all over Tulsa. Deep in my heart, I would say, Why God? Why is everybody else getting to do what I want to do; what I think You have called me to do? Why are they pastoring and I’m not? It’s not that I was jealous of them or bitter toward them. In fact, a lot of my buddies would call and say, “Hey, I’ve got this going on in the church. What would you do?” I confess there were many times I’d wonder, why am I answering all their questions? I’m not the pastor. I’m the one still stuck on a truck!
I would get off the phone with my friends and think: If only I could be you.
My Crazy, Cross-Eyed Life
Today I serve as the senior pastor of Legacy Church, a thriving church (by God’s grace) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with membership over twenty thousand and many more who attend weekly across four campuses. So now I preach six times every week. And I love it.
But at one point, my own father said that I was the last child he ever expected to be speaking in front of people. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one. As a child, I would take an F in class rather than speak in public. I would turn in my reports, and the teacher would say, “No, you have to read in front of the class.”
‘I’m not going to do it,” I would say. “You’ll have to flunk me because I’m not doing it.”
You see, I was born cross-eyed and with double vision. So if I had to look at someone without my glasses, there would be two of them. When people would look at me, they didn’t know if I was looking at them or not. And without my glasses, I wasn’t sure if I was looking at the right image either. It made for some crazy situations that left me frustrated, shy, and angry.
Those of you who dealt with physical barriers as children know what I’m talking about. I spent a lot of my early years throwing punches at everyone who made fun of me. Because I got so used to being rejected, I became terrified of talking in front of people.
And then I encountered God. When I became born again, God gave me a clear direction in life through a restored relationship with Him. And then He called me to be a preacher. Go figure. It had to be of God because it was the last thing I would have wanted to do.
I wasn’t picked as “Most Likely to Succeed” at anything in life. An average student in high school, my goal was just to get through. I didn’t really care. Just get through school, go to college, get a degree, and then figure out life. To say I had no motivation would be an understatement.
Looking back, I can see that I was pretty lazy at times; content to drift through life and just let stuff happen. I went to Bible College, started working for UPS, got married, and waited for lightening to strike. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was embracing an outlook of learned helplessness.
Even though I had found new life in Christ, I wasn’t happy with my life. God hadn’t given me what I thought I deserved. Even now when writing this, I sense those resentful feelings wanting to rise up again. What a spoiled, ungrateful, spiritual brat I was! I would get so discouraged, so disappointed; no matter what was happening, I always felt like a failure. People around me would talk about how much God had blessed me, how much I had, but I could not see it. I was making over nineteen dollars an hour. I had a great wife who loved me, three wonderful and healthy children, and rewarding friendships. I was also officiating basketball, football, and fast pitch softball to make decent money on the side. It was really not a bad life for a twenty-six-year-old.
The reality is that God was blessing me while I was accusing Him of not caring. My problem wasn’t the problem. I felt left out, as if God cared about some but not me. After all, if God cared about me, He’d give me what I wanted, right? So why didn’t God like me?
I thought God hated me when I was at UPS. I really did. And the whole time I’m crying and moaning, God’s training me in so many ways. God knew better than I did. Once I realized that, everything changed. I had to decide to trust Him no matter what. If He was working all things together for my good as He promised (Romans 8:28), that included even the stuff I didn’t think was all that great.
As I think back now, it saddens me to think of the wasted time, the years I spent complaining and accusing God. I can see now how God was training me for ministry and taught me so much—even as I did nothing but complain about it. For example, I learned to take responsibility for my own thinking. I learned to check my attitude whenever I begin to feel helpless in the face of life’s problems. I learned that no matter how hard it gets to serve as a pastor, how frigid people may seem or how hot the situation feels, I must get up each and every day, say what I need to say, and do the job God has called me to do.
When I decided that God wasn’t’ the problem, I began to grow and renew my thinking. I began to:
- appreciate what I have
- not allow myself to feel inferior to anyone
- stop comparing myself to others
- slow down and enjoy the moment
- be thankful
I remember so clearly the freedom I found when I told the Lord, “If you want me to be a UPS man for the rest of my life, I’m willing and will become the best UPS man I can be.”
I quit complaining, started thanking, and found great peace.