The Final Month: Day Fifteen

Posted: July 16, 2012 in The Final Month

I’ve mentioned before the odd dynamic between dreading leaving my position as student pastor of Connersville Baptist Temple and the excitement over the coming new chapter in my life as a church planter. I have to find a good balance, because I don’t want my friends in Crozet to feel as though I don’t want to be there,  yet nor do I want my church family here to feel as though I don’t want to be here. I’m dreading the 29th of this month. Seriously. I’m not at all looking forward to it, because I know I will spend the day an emotional wreck as I view my students for the last time as their pastor. I know that my empathy button is going to be on the “Doug Kaler” setting (hahaha), and I will go through way too many tissues.

It’s going to be a rough day- no doubt one of the hardest I’ll have endured as a minister of the gospel. Yet still for every ounce of dread and heartbreak, there is also an ounce of excitement and anticipation over standing before the growing nucleus of Life Journey Church my first Sunday in Virginia and pledging before them my commitment, excitement, and yes- even joy to be one of the elders pouring out my life to teach them God’s Word and help equip them for service in His kingdom. The range of emotions I deal with is crazy, to say the least. I pray that my church family here at Baptist Temple understands that as my excitement grows over pursuing God’s will for me as a church planter.

Following the wisdom of a pastor friend of mine who has a huge heart for God’s people, I’d like to flesh out the one blessing that impresses greatly upon me tonight, and that blessing is in my being on staff as the student pastor of Connersville Baptist Temple. Here are some things I am grateful for, in no particular order:

  1. I’m thankful for CBT and its leadership for giving me my first job out of seminary. Too few churches are willing to hire someone with no previous vocational experience- it was a blessing to come on board as a wet-behind-the-ears punk youth pastor.
  2. I’m thankful for the past three years of being able to develop my gift as a teacher/preacher. I know that I’ve got a long way to go, but I also know that I’ve gained valuable experience in the 500+ times that I’ve been able to teach and preach here.
  3. I’m thankful for the lessons that I’ve unfortunately had to learn the hard way. Poor planning, unwise decisions, incorrectly handled interpersonal conflict…all of these things have helped to shape me into the man of God that I’m trying to be. The bumps and bruises will prove invaluable.
  4. I’m thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned from my pastors and co-workers. We all know that no one is perfect, yet dwelling on differences and imperfections does no one any good. Instead I can focus on the positive experiences, of which there are plenty.
  5. I’m thankful for the friendship of Tim Billups. I’m not the easiest guy to have on staff. Sometimes he doesn’t strike me as God’s gift to bosses- but I can honestly say that Pastor Tim has come across as a friend much more than as my boss. He chose to inherit me with his new position here as senior pastor rather than cut me loose and finding his own youth pastor.
  6. I’m thankful for what has been an amazing work environment. There are six or seven of us floating around the church during office hours, and we have fun together. We’re friends. Family.  I don’t dread the office interaction- it’s a fun place to be.
  7. I’m thankful for all of the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained. From graphic design to event planning, there are so many tools that I am now equipped with that I can take with me as God continues to guide my life. There have also been countless lessons learned that seminary could have never prepared me for.
  8. I’m thankful for the freedom that I have been given as the overseer of the youth department. From hand-selecting youth leaders, picking curriculum, designing the various services, implementing fairly large changes…I’ve had the ability to structure the youth department as I’ve wanted.
  9. I’m thankful for the trust shown in me by the members of Baptist Temple as they have allowed me to be the primary educator of the church’s youth. Without a doubt, I have pushed some boundaries and uncomfortably stepped on many toes in my endeavor to equip my students for a life of service. Remember- it’s not enough to simply and blindly believe doctrine. You need to know why you believe it.
  10. I’m thankful for all of the adults who have invested their lives into my students these past three years. I have no doubt that they will continue to minister to the kids long after I leave.
  11. I’m thankful for an amazing group of students who have grown to be siblings to me. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for them as they continue to mature in their faith. They are not the future of our church- they are the church, along with everyone else.
  12. I’m thankful for a generous budget which allows our group to do some pretty awesome and fun activities. If I had to throw out an estimate, we’ve had about 75 activities together in my time here. These have been a great help in building group cohesion.
  13. I’m thankful for the love shown to my family and me over the years. There are several people in the church that are truly family to us. We have been recipients of kindness, generosity, prayer, free babysitting (that’s huge- trust me!), all kinds of awesomeness.
  14. I’m thankful that Baptist Temple is supportive of this transition in my life. It’s humbling to be “released” with full approval. I can’t wait for the opportunity for LJC and CBT to partner together on mission to serve each other’s communities.
  15. I’m so thankful that I have been able to support my family for the last three years by doing what I love. It’s been a crazy ride. With that is a deep gratitude that Sarai has been able to remain at home with the kids rather than working as well to make ends meet. God has been so kind to me, and He’s done this through you guys at Temple.

 

I’m sure I could continue, and no doubt once my head hits the pillow I’ll be mentally smacking myself for failing to mention some obvious things I should be (and am) thankful for. I hope it’s clear though that I love my church family. Leaving is going to hurt. It is. So for all you readers who comprise Connersville Baptist Temple, do know that I wouldn’t trade the last three years for anything. Please know how grateful I am for everything you’ve done for me and my family as you’ve allowed us to serve you. I’m looking forward to seeing what God has in store for you as you continue to shine His light in Connersville, Indiana. Please remember to pray for us throughout and long after this transition. We love you.

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