The Highlights, The Lowlights, and the Takeaways for Growth
Last year brought massive change in my life and ministry! That, along with the encouragement to post an annual review by my writing coach, Chad Allen, prompted this summary of milestone events and learning experiences.
The Highlights This Year
Led the way to a peaceful pastoral succession. After fifteen years of service as the lead pastor at Orlando Grace Church, I passed the shepherding baton to Jim Davis. From the moment I accepted the ministry challenge at OGC, I determined to gift the church a seamless transition in leadership when that time came. Nothing matches this milestone for significance and delight for me in 2018.
Launched my book, The Peacemaking Church. This highlight comes in a close second! The three-year writing project finally reached completion with publication in November. Jan and I were thrilled to return to Central Florida for a signing event hosted by Orlando Grace. The number of folks who joined us that night to celebrate the accomplishment of a lifelong goal fueled our hope for how the Lord might use the book to promote church unity elsewhere.
Travelled to East Asia. For security purposes I regret that I cannot say much about our experience overseas. This survey trip to encourage M workers in a challenging environment proved to be the privilege of a lifetime for this pastor and his wife. We witnessed just how much God is working in a difficult place. It was our joy to speak about peacemaking on multiple occasions for the benefit of precious servants laboring in the field.
Relocated to my beloved Idaho. With succession came the challenge of what to do and where to go next. After much prayer, the Lord led us to our five-acre spot in the Clearwater valley. A major component of that decision involved the recent planting of Trinity Reformed Baptist Church just twenty minutes from our home. Their need has brought us here to explore what the Lord may have for us in providing part-time pastoral ministry help. At the same time, He has faithfully met our needs in amazing and practical ways.
The Lowlights This Year
Struggled to lead well in crucial meetings. On two particular occasions before exiting OGC, I failed to execute the kind of courage necessary to love others well in conflict (Eph. 4:15). My weaknesses disappointed and hurt brothers and sisters for whom I care deeply. I will always regret the taste my shortcomings have left in some mouths in an otherwise savory final year in Orlando.
Lost partnerships with gifted servants. Closely related to lowlight one, number two involved sharp disagreements (Acts 15:36-41) leading to parting of ministry ways. While I believe these relationships are reconciled, the difficulties in navigating the conflicts resulted in lost opportunities for future ministry collaboration.
Mediocre performance in peacemaking training. I participated in a two-day advanced conflict coaching and mediation course in St. Louis. My mentor’s first question in evaluation says it all. “Have you done much of this kind of thing?” Actually, I have, but apparently still have some way to go.
Robojaw woes continued. I endured a final surgery in jaw reconstruction and subsequent multiple attempts in both Orlando and Boise to place correctly an eight-teeth sized bridge in my mouth. A proper fit to the appliance still eludes my longsuffering dentist. A trip to Orlando is right around the corner to take another shot at getting things right.
Takeaways for Growth
God is not done with me yet. He has opened doors for me to continue preaching and help others with their conflict. I am passionate about these things and want to continue serving others as He gives me grace to do so!
Two are better than one in doing the Lord’s work (Ecc. 4:9-12). I knew this before but time and again the Lord shows me how priceless a treasure I possess in my wife as we partner together in this new season.
My “fear of man” sins must continually be put to death with the Spirit’s help (Col. 3:5). I cannot afford to let my guard down on this perpetual threat. Too much is at stake.
Peacemaking skills require constant improvement. St. Louis was a wakeup call for me. I’m not as skilled at the mediation thing as I thought I was. I want to find ways in 2019 to get better at helping others this way.
Writing is something I can do reasonably well. Or so I’ve been told in various reviews! I want to explore additional projects the Lord might have for me in the future.
Thanks for hanging in with me for a longer post than usual. As you review your own 2018 journey and anticipate 2019, I offer these words of encouragement from January 3rd’s entry in Morning Thoughts:
Living in a world of imperfection and change, we must expect nothing perfect, nothing stable, in what we are, in what we do, or in what we enjoy. But amid the dissolving views of the world that “passes away,” let us take firm hold of the unchangeableness of God. The wheels may revolve, but the axle on which they turn is immoveable. Such is our covenant God. Events may vary- providences may change- friends may die- feelings may fluctuate- but God in Christ will know “no variableness, neither the shadow of a turning.”
Question: What’s one highlight from your 2018 journey?