On this day, seven years ago, I became a pastor.
Well, that’s not exactly true. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to casually say, “I’m a pastor” with conviction and confidence; it is an art that is remade in me daily. I think I’m more apt to say, “I’m pastoring today.”
I’m writing about it again today.
My perspective now – seven years later – is one tinged with a greater appreciation for
how much has changed. Recently, a coworker led us through an exercise that included an examination of the life cycle of an organization. The Early Success and Fun areas that are eventually replaced by Predictable Success and the Treadmill are where nostalgia and reminiscing come in – where we talk a lot about “the good old days” and “the way things used to be”.
I’ve become that person; the one that talks about the good old days. Sigh.
That’s another blog post entirely, but this graphic and the ensuing discussion helped me to identify that I’m at a pivot point in my work and ministry life where I look back to the past with fondness, a peculiar ache, and a bit of yearning. It has come with the growth, into adulthood, of all of my kids; my “baby” is 18 and preparing to head out on his own soon. Lots of life transition; lots of reason to look back into what was familiar.
So, looking back, I see that so much has happened in 2,492 days; I see it in the photographs. I see it in my calendar. I see it in the gains and losses of friends and loved ones. Seven years ago, my people gathered to affirm, as a community, that I could take on the responsibility of offering spiritual guidance and care. We celebrated; they laid their hands on my shoulders and offered encouraging words and prayers. Seven years later, I look back over roles and responsibilities and jobs and efforts and ventures that I’m not sure I could have imagined. So much has changed; so much has been uncovered and revealed.
We used a scripture from Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus for the ordination service; reexamining these words today reminds me of the solid place in which I stand, in which I have stood for these past seven years, the same center that has held firm since I entered this world:
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2.7-10, The Message
We neither make nor save ourselves. Here I am, a pastor, and I’m not sure how much I had to do with this becoming. But here’s what I do know: I have been formed and shaped and created by a Divine Love that has expressed itself through some powerful, incredible ways.
Here are a few: