So when did this happen? Less than fifteen years ago I was deeply involved in the Young Adult Caucus of my previous denominational family and now I’m about to turn fifty. Yep, “the Big Five-O” and the gray in my beard tells me that most assuredly I’m not a young adult any more.
I’m part of the X generation and when I was a young adult we were the generation the Church was going after in the same way now that the Church pursues the Millennials. Now the Church seems to have passed up my generation going after the 20 somethings and forgetting we still have not gotten the 40s and 50s somethings to be fully committed to the Church either.
As I look at turning fifty I seriously thought about not blogging about this at all. Who wants to hear another middle aged preacher talk about hitting fifty?
But I decided that given all the change I’ve experienced in my life between the ages of forty-five and fifty maybe I had some things to explore out loud as I pass another sign post on the journey that is life and ministry.
When I entered college back in 1982 I had a ten year plan. I knew what seminary I planned on attending, I knew what career path I intended to be on, and I knew what part of the US I intended to be pastoring in ten years ahead.
Looking back I realize that my ten year plans was at least two parts naive, one part arrogance, and at least one part ignorance. How can anyone really plan their life like that? I didn’t know even in that time frame how much my life would change.
Without going into all the details my ten year plan actually changed by my second year of seminary with marriage to my wife (now together twenty-six wonderful years) and a move to another seminary and another city.
When I look back at the course of my years of ordained ministry I have realize that some of the very best things that have happened to me in ministry were unplanned, unexpected, unanticipated, and not fully prepared for. The more times I’ve tried to control my direction and destiny the more times God has shown a sense of humor and a powerful sense of direction by moving me in another way and a better way.
In both the streams of Wesleyan thought and Celtic Christian thought following Christ is more about the journey than it is about the destination. We can make our journey about trying to know where we are going, carefully reading the sign posts, and logically trying lay out our steps. But if we are walking with Jesus down the path Jesus is going to decide where the road goes and where the path leads. The only real constant is that Jesus is there with us. The scenery changes, the valleys and the hills change but Christ’s presence among us never changes.
I look back now on twenty-four plus years of ministry but more importantly I’m looking ahead, I hope with God’s guidance, to twenty or more years of ministry ahead of me.
As I prepare to pass the fifty-year mark by this time I thought I would be tired of ministry or least feel “settled.” Instead I’ve committed my life to being itinerant. By this time I thought I might be longing for the end of the path. But instead I can’t wait to see what comes next. By this time I thought the path might be boring or predictable. But now it has never been less predicable.
What I have discovered is that the past several years have been some of my most surprising and exciting in ministry. I learned that the path that God has us on is ever changing and that the scenery gets more and more spectacular. I find that I am more exciting than ever to stand in chancel to preach, to share in the sacraments, to stand at someone’s bedside and pray, and to sit with other believers in Christ and dream dreams of faith.
I have no idea where the year(s) ahead will take me. I have no idea what God has in store for me for the future. But wow it is a wild and exciting ride!