Thanks for 19 Years

This week marks the 19th anniversary of being on staff among our church family.  Serving in ministry has been part of my life for over thirty years. The privileges and responsibilities of full time vocational ministry took some time to come. With each passing day, week, month and year, there is a growing appreciation for God's grace toward me, particularly shown through the many, young, old and in between, in many ministry contexts.

Some might say: "why do this now, why not wait till your 20th anniversary?"  Great question. My response is that it's never a bad thing to show gratitude.
Perhaps it's also a result of my growing appreciation for the perseverance of my family, support networks and the strength of leadership the Lord has placed around me.

But mostly, it's a humble recognition that God has been the one, advancing His purposes through us all. I recently came across a document that I had written prior to moving into my current role (over 13 years ago).  I'm not even sure I understood the significance of what the Lord was impressing on me to write down at that time, but rediscovering it has likely been the catalyst for writing this note.  Here's a glimpse of my prayer to God, in following his calling to serve the people of a community with the grace and truth of Jesus:
  • provide training, equipping and missional (local and beyond) opportunities.
  • Develop a community that embraces accountability to upholding the truth of God’s Word with the grace that invites others to want to participate.
  • Work with other churches to discern how they are reaching the community – let’s work together. 
  • Identify which group our church can best reach locally
  • Identify an international mission field where we can serve and learn in a long term relationship.
Reading through this list, it's amazing to see how the Lord has enabled us to learn, fulfill and even surpass much of this. So, I am thankful for these first nineteen years of vocational ministry. I'm thankful for the people who have embraced the calling of sacrificial service to those around us, personally, locally and globally. I'm thankful for the mistakes (well, now I am, at the time it's always hard) we've made, and the struggles we've endured along the way. They have helped us to grow. I'm sorrowful (that sorrow doesn't leave, it inspires) for those who have exemplified these ideals, but have since gone to their heavenly home...I miss them.  I'm thankful (I wish there was a better word) for the grace and patience that people have extended to me as I've learned and grown in understanding what it means to serve the Lord, His people and a community.

After nineteen years, there is so much more to learn, particularly through others.  These first principles are really just foundational stones upon which to build and through which greater discoveries of the blessings of God await.  I'm excited to keep building on this foundation and look forward to the new people, organizations, and places through which God will lead. 

If you're reading this, chances are you've been part of this journey...and I thank God for you!