Honestly, I am not sure where the last 10 years have gone. The only reason I know it has been that long is that the calendar says so and that the 16 mo. old at my house is now about to enter 6th grade.
I’ve recently been consulting my journals from my season of preparation to become a pastor, especially the last few months in the spring of 2005. There was so much excitement about beginning that which I had been preparing for since I woke up in the winter of 1994 knowing that God was calling me to the work.
After 10 years, I can say that it has been an unexpected, thrilling, rewarding, exhausting, challenging, and transformative journey. Here are some things I would tell my younger self:
- Be Ready for Surprise – people, places, and situations are not always what they seem. Take a deep breath, trust, and enjoy the journey.
- You will Fail – at times miserably, at others more modestly but the work of curing souls is humbling, so get back up, you’ll survive.
- Don’t be a People Pleaser – no matter what you do, how you do it, when you do it, there will always be someone who will be disappointed, who will question you, your relationship with God, your competence, your call. Live into your calling humbly and honestly. The rest will take care of itself.
- Persevere – get up and remind yourself that the harvest in indeed plentiful. Dry your tears, control your disappointment, walk away, and get back at the work that God has called you to, you will not just survive, you will thrive, in time.
- Root – everywhere you go be fully present, especially at home to Shannon and the kids, but also with the sheep that God has surrounded you with and with the neighborhood that you live in.
- Talk to friends more often (especially Josh Hale) – believe me, they will be your lifeline, do not hesitate to pick up the phone, you need them and they also need you, you are in a yoked and ordered life, you are not alone!
- Be Who You Are – you’ll change towns more often than you think, you’ll adapt in more ways that you imagine, but always remember who you are!
- Remember Joy – this will seem elusive at times but pay attention because it is all around you, do not be so focused on the current task to the point that you miss an opportunity to experience the power of joy.
- You Are NOT Leaving Pastoral Ministry – at least not in your first 10 years, in all seriousness you will look at the classifieds more times that you’ll be able to remember, you will have opportunities to do other things with your life but in the end this calling will be renewed again and again and for that you’ll be thankful.
- Pay Attention – time will fly, look around, journal daily, enjoy Sundays, put the kids to bed as often as you can, forgive, reconcile, live life with God’s people!