I graduated from Dallas Seminary a little over ten years ago. At that time I was 25 and we were expecting our first child. I knew so much.
August 1st will be the ten-year anniversary of me starting pastoral ministry (in a paid capacity) and will also be the one-year anniversary of my time at Genesis. (I guess I like to start things August 1—perhaps to coincide with the school year.)
I’m still a pastoral ministry spring chicken—at least that’s how I feel. At the same time, I often think about the ways in which my perspective on ministry has changed over a decade. What would I do differently if I could start over? What would I do more of, and perhaps do it with more intensity?
One topic comes to mind almost right away: when it comes to pastoring, faithful is better than fast.
I’m not sure if most think like I do—probably not. Ask Courtney and you’ll know that I’m a bit neurotic. In a few weeks we will hit the 10-year mark since graduating from seminary the first time. Ten years. That’s shocking to me. I’m just a few months from ten full years in pastoral ministry. Honestly, that isn’t much time. I have many more years to potentially flame out, but I pray that I don’t (and would ask you to do the same).
So, in celebration of (almost) ten years, I decided to blog on the dumb things that cross my mind while working at a church. Consider it one part humor and one part personal confession. I doubt most people think like I do, but here are a few things that still cross my mind ten years late.
So, if you’re new (or old) to the blog, then you’ve noticed that I have been writing more. Writing with a great frequency is something that I’ve wanted to do for a while but simply haven’t set up the time for. I’ve started to budget the time and have done a decent job at keeping it. So, for those who do read this blog with any regularity: I have a question for you.
What are some of the best things that I can write about? What are the posts that you find most beneficial? Why types of things do you want to hear? (Ok, those were questions, but they all orbit around the same idea.)
I wrote on Monday on some of my observations about going through a reading plan, memory plan, and preaching plan as a church. I forgot to mention another area where we aligned: our small group discussion. Our groups that meet throughout the week do not have to do a discussion guide that is synced up with the sermon text, but it is provided for them should they want to.
But that isn’t why I’m writing today. Today I wanted to write about a follow-up thought that shows another angle of this aligned approach. This whole plan has been a great discipline for me in how I think about preaching, and I believe it has been good for our church, but there is another side to pursuing corporate disciplines like this and then how to apply it pastorally:
Earlier this week, I wrote about how there is very little in this life that I actually did by my own strength. In fact, the things that perhaps I should be credited for are usually the things that go poorly. If I just slow down—if I just take time to reflect on where I am in life—I can see that it had little to do with my own power and might. With just a tiny bit of perspective I can see that my strength got me nowhere.
Why, then, do I still spend so much time taking credit for things that I had little hand in bringing about? Why do I have such pride in the things that “I” do? For the past three semesters I have been serving as a GTA (graduate teaching assistant) with an online class at Dallas Seminary. It’s one of the intro pastoral ministries classes and the content of that class has helped to remind me as to why I still try and take credit.
One of the most eventful and travel-packed years for the Googers and we do not get a Christmas card or Christmas letter out. That’s what happens when you move, change jobs, live with your (Hans’) sister and her family for five months, renovate a house, run into problems renovating said house, move into that house, continue running into problems, and likely have more things to address. The Christmas card got cut for time and budget reasons. There was a moment—we had it lined up—where we were going to get pictures and get the party started, but the weather was bad that day and we never rescheduled because that is how 2018 has been.
Here’s your Christmas/New Year’s blog post:
Where to start? Well, our new house has gutters now. That’s nice. It needed gutters; but you probably didn’t come for the gutters or updates on them. You are probably curious about the family. We have updates on them, too.
First, the travels. From May until July we traveled to Kentucky (Hans is a Dr. now, but not the kind people really care about), to Texas, to Tennessee, to Virgina, to Washington DC, to Georgia, and back. Then we sold the house and moved to Texas. Hans got a job as a pastor at a church in Spring—Genesis Community Church—thus the move. From July until early December we lived with Hans’ sister and her family as we got adjusted—we pray they have recovered (in fact, they were awesome). Then, in December we got into our house.
All the kids are in the same elementary school, which sits at the front of the neighborhood. Ethan’s favorite things: recess is longer, no uniforms, and he can play basketball at said recess. Asher? Same. Abram? That his music teacher puts chapstick on his hand and calls it a “smelly.” Abram now will not leave the house without a big Ziploc bag full of chapstick. “My lips will never be chapped,” he says.
Both to give us something to do in a new city and give the kids other kids to meet (not to mention they both wanted to), Ethan and Asher played baseball for the first time. What did we learn? It rains a lot in Texas in the fall. Basically half the games got rained out and/or rescheduled. (By the way, who in the WORLD schedules 8pm Little League games on school nights? Crazy people.) Another thing we learned? Baseball is a sport with a HIGH entry cost—gray pants (but not too gray), navy socks, black socks, a belt, a helmet, a bat, a bat bag, a glove, etc. One time we couldn’t find Ethan’s glove so Hans ran to Academy to get ANOTHER glove. Shortly thereafter we found the missing glove in the bushes.
The new house has a double oven so Courtney makes twice the cookies. The old house had a double oven, too, but we didn’t tell you last year so we can now make that tidbit sound like new news. She’s also really loving the new king-sized bed because she can say “goodnight” to Hans and then not see him again for eight hours (more like five hours with how late she stays up).
In other news, Hans was pulled over for a traffic violation for the first time in his life this year. The speed limit on the main boulevard in the neighborhood? TWENTY. Fewer things are worse in the world of transportation than a posted speed limit of twenty in a place that is not a school zone. Luckily, Hans got a warning from the officer and the ability to tell the kids that he, too, gets pulled over. (“What does ‘pulled over’ mean?” asked Abram.)
A lot happened this year. Much more than the letter contains, but not much more that you’ll be interested in. The synopsis: we’re alive, baseball is expensive, chapstick is cheap, we live in Texas, and God is good.
We hope to be back in card and letter form in 2019. Until then, here’s a picture of us from the first night in the house: