Pausing to Look Back for Takeaways about How to Move Forward
I wracked my brain wondering what to post this week.
Thanks to friend and writing mentor Chad Allen, I knew exactly where to head.
His timely post about his new season of self-employment inspired me to reflect similarly on my transition.
Last August 15 I walked out the door for the last time as lead pastor at Orlando Grace Church.
Here are five significant takeaways from the journey thus far.
One, God is faithful to provide (Phil. 4:19).
When I put a succession process into motion at OGC, it took some risk-taking faith. Like many pastors in their later years, I’m not positioned financially to retire. While I desire to keep working at my calling, the fact is I must do so to provide for my household. I marvel how not once since the OGC paycheck ended have I needed to raid the buffer fund!
Takeaway: keep on trusting that He is a rewarder of those who seek him (Heb. 11:6).
Two, conflict is everywhere to steward (Matt. 5:9).
This reality hasn’t surprised me at all. I expected to find strained relationships and broken friendships in rural Idaho just as they exist in metro Orlando. But the extent of these challenges in our valley has at times taken my breath away. There is a need here for peacemaking help.
Takeaway: stay on mission helping churches and their people do their best at preserving unity (Eph. 4:1-3).
Three, help is essential to succeed (Gen. 2:18).
Nobody thrives or survives in the pastorate full-time or part-time by flying solo. We need a ton of help. Jan excels in her role as this shepherd’s wife! I don’t even want to imagine trying to serve Trinity Church without her persevering prayer, relentless encouragement, and relational skills.
I’ve also found help from my fellow elders at Trinity as well as other area pastors by joining the local ministerial association. I know next to nothing about pastoring in a rural context. These servants have much to teach me and I’m eager to learn.
Takeaway: do a lot of listening to wise counselors (Jas. 1:19).
Four, relationships are costly to build (1 Pet. 4:8).
One local pastor reminded me recently of the adage “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Stepping into a new culture and church brings the challenge of investing in relationships to build trust and connection. That takes time, energy, even money because few things build relational intimacy like sharing a meal together.
Takeaway: take initiative regularly to practice hospitality with joy (1 Pet. 4:9).
Five, time is precious to redeem (Eph. 5:15-16).
According to my employment agreement with Trinity, I’ve got 20 hours each week to spend on pastoral ministry. Our elders insist that I stay around that target, though we all know some weeks will require more time.
They want me to enjoy this new season by not overworking. How sweet is that!? They’ve got me keeping a daily log of how I use my time. At the 90 day mark of service we will review the results to take stock of my stewardship.
Takeaway: prayerfully choose each day’s activities to make the most of every opportunity (Psalm 90:12).
Whatever your vocation–full-time, part-time, semi-retired or retired–I trust these reflections apply to your realm and might help as you move forward into your future!