Crouse trades blueprints for sermon notes
    August 23 2010 by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder

    To some, Justin Crouse’s decision might have made little sense.

    For more than seven years, Crouse worked his way up from the mailroom in the Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse corporate offices to the point where he was drawing blueprints for new stores. With annual sales of more than $47 billion, Lowe’s is the second-largest hardware chain in the world.

    The job was a good one, stable and relatively secure.

    Crouse had also served as youth minister at West Yadkin Baptist Church in Hamptonville since February 2008. When the previous pastor left in 2009, the church asked Crouse to step in as interim and then called him permanently. Going full time made Crouse an even busier guy.

    “It was time intensive,” says Crouse, 30, who is evidently a master of understatement.

    Crouse always had to walk the balance beam between work and ministry. Countless bi-vocational ministers around the world can relate with Crouse’s situation.

    “For two years, I did both — I did the store plans and served as youth pastor,” Crouse remembers. “The store planner job was mentally intensive during the day, and then I would come home and work some nights until I went to bed, trying to study and research for youth lessons. It was tough. You come home and you’re just mentally drained, and you sit down and flip on your other computer again.”

    In the midst of all that, Crouse continued to coach football at local schools. Something had to give.

    In May Crouse stepped down from his role in the Lowe’s home office in Mooresville. And while he stayed with the company, the 2002 graduate of Piedmont Baptist College now works part time on the loading dock in the chain’s Elkin store.

    On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, Crouse clocks in at 5 a.m. and typically finishes by noon to allow time for his ministry duties.  

    Any questions?
    His wife, Jessica, was cautious but supportive of what her husband was about to do. Asked if anyone else questioned the move, Crouse simply laughed.

    “For me, I knew it was what God wanted me to do,” the young pastor says.

    Photo by Ginger Wagoner

    Justin Crowe, right, shakes hands with Brad Myers following worship service at West Yadkin Baptist Church.

    “In that respect, it was an easy decision for me. Several people said, ‘Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are you sure this is a good decision? You’re giving up this and giving up that.’ I said, ‘I’m safer giving that up than I am holding on to it.’”

    The decision to scale back at Lowe’s was not made lightly. Crouse began work as a temporary employee in the mailroom in October 2002, and he eventually joined the store environment and operations departments. He helped set up new stores, which led to designing the layout for locations about to be opened.

    “It was a great job,” Crouse says. “It could be stressful at times, but it was a really good job. I came in, did my work and went home. I had a really good experience.”

    As busy as he had been, actually shepherding a flock in his first full-time pastorate is yet another huge leap in responsibility. Ready or not, Crouse was willing to take the plunge.

    “There were second- and third-hand conversations where people said, ‘Is he ready for that?’” Crouse admits.

    “Satan would put thoughts in my mind, ‘You’re not ready for this. You’re just 30 years old,’ that type of thing. I finally got to the point where I said, ‘You know what? If I wait until I’m ready, I’ll never do it.’

    “It doesn’t matter whether I’m ready or not, anyway. Moses wasn’t ready when God told him to go. It’s whether God’s ready for me, not whether I’m ready for God.”

    Full-time ministry had always been a goal of Crouse’s, although he probably didn’t expect it to happen as quickly as it did. He’d been an interim pastor at a church in Wilkesboro and he’d served as music leader for a Charlotte congregation. Step by step, he was being prepared.

    “The Lord’s really made it clear to me that I need to work on His timetable and quit trying to force my timetable on Him,” Crouse says.

    As Crouse closes in on a year at the helm of West Yadkin Baptist, members of the congregation have been there for their new pastor and he’s been there for them. He calls the last several months “wonderful.”

    “I think things are going well,” Crouse concludes. “I don’t have any agenda, other than to promote harmony and hold the body together.” 
    8/23/2010 8:00:00 AM by Rick Houston, Special to the Recorder | with 2 comments

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working ,great job!
9/9/2010 6:09:35 AM

There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working ,great job!
9/8/2010 9:17:21 PM

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