FS-Mike Mercer-Black Belt Blogging

As an introduction, I want to say how grateful I am for the Aim High family and how privileged I feel to be a part of the Ethos Black Belt test. Whether I find the necessary progress within this cycle or find myself recycled to next year's cadre of candidates, I'm 'over the moon' to be on the floor with you all - and not just on the floor with you, but living life with you through this journey.

As a part of the process of entering this test, I have made a commitment to rigorous contribution to this blog space with generous permission to write about anything. For what its worth, I feel like I'm on a black belt journey both inside and outside of the gym. For the sake of introduction, let me say a few things in this regard:

First, I'm a pastor. It's all I've ever been. Even in my current line of work, which I'll explain, I'm really just a pastor. At that, one of my great privileges is the allowance that our instructors have granted me to be the self-appointed "Gym Pastor."

Being a pastor by training, calling, and profession, isn't a lot different from any other job, save the fact that it absolutely orbits around one's worldview. My worldview, in a simple sentence, could simply be described as a belief that: "Jesus doesn't forget about anybody." As such it drives everything for me and, frankly, informs what I believe my job description to be: To simply love everybody. In my opinion, it is the privileged role of a pastor. All of that to say, I feel lucky to be at Aim High and, hopefully, I'll have the chance to express sincere love and appreciation for each of you. You all make my life better and I'm thankful for it.

Many are aware that I don't pastor a local church. Rather, I run a non-governmental (NGO) anti-trafficking organization called Compassion First. We provide critical services for minor girls who have been rescued from child sexual trafficking and forced prostitution. Our primary work is in the giant nation of Indonesia where we stand alone as the only western organization of record. I'm very proud to work with a bunch of amazing people - all of them black belts in life, love, and action.

With that, you have my commitment to be in class as often as I can be, to discuss the workouts on the outside when I can't be, to blog often - not just about the Ethos test but about the whole journey along the way. With permission, I'll be writing about our work, about life, marriage, culture, my kids, and about the idea that the black belt lifestyle flows from the dojo and into the world in every way. I'll cross-post from time-to-time at my own blog, www.lifeattheturn.net and at the Compassion First field blog: www.cffieldblog.wordpress.com. You can also stay very up to date on the work of Compassion First by liking the Compassion First Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/compassionfirstpage.

On the issues of worldview and things non-martial arts, I make no assumption as to agreement with others on such things; only that I commit myself to respecting you for your viewpoints where they differ from mine. Even more, I love the discussion. It is a matter of life to me.

Last, that which should have been first: I have a beautiful family. I've been married to Kymra for 18 years. We've lived a lot of life together. I pray that one day I can actually earn my black belt in marriage. We have three great kids: Grace who is 15; Sam who is 11 and a sometimes Fusion student at Aim High; and Paigie who is 6 and simply came along as just the right kind of help at just the right time in my life, even as her name suggests.

Mike

Posted on March 28, 2014 .