There are 3 times throughout the year where I do some serious self reflection.
November 14 (my birthday. Gifts welcomed).
July 1 (July 1 is when appointments in the United Methodist Church begin).
This year’s July 1 came and went rather quickly. I don’t even really remember what happened on my 3rd first Sunday of the year.
The month started with N’s (our foster son) sister, S, being dropped off by her foster parents because they were en route to a family reunion out of country. She’ll be with us for 3 weeks.
And it’s been… hectic.
She has been testing my claim of being a real patient person. On her first day with us, the wife had to go in to her office and N was at school leaving me with S. And I made her cry. Oops. That was day 1.
On top of that, N was really sick. I say “really” because he didn’t eat much throughout the week. That’s a huge red flag. N loves to eat. And that’s an understatement. It’s also been heartbreaking at times to see the little ways he has regressed with his sister around — like being paranoid with food. But it’s also been great to see him play and interact with his older sister.
And of course, being the generous kid N is, he has passed on what he had to me — with a vengeance.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s been a real crazy start to the month. On top of that, the wife started her new and exciting journey in IV.
This weekend, N and I are going to make a quick trip to SF to see one of my closest friends who’s flying in from Okinawa with his family. That little drive will give me some ample to time reflect about the year that was in my appointment.
Starting year 3 is a big milestone for me. This is now the longest appointment so far for me. (Granted, I was a mid-year appointment at VUMC — but I don’t see a mid-year appointment happening to me here at St. Mark).
I felt like I stumbled to the end of Year 2 and still haven’t caught my footing as I anticipate the second Sunday of year 3.
Something within me hasn’t been clicking in months, I feel like.
The last good sermon I gave, where I undoubtedly knew it was a good sermon was Easter. After Easter each Sunday ended with, “What was missing today…?”
Some Sundays I would go home thinking, “What in the world happened?”
Of course, it’s unfair to assess me on just my preaching because that’s not the only thing I do. But it’s the most visible thing I do. And it’s one of the things I absolutely love about my calling. So it’s hard to separate myself from preacher role and pastor role. If I don’t do a good job of preaching, that tends to taint all that I did the previous week. I, unfortunately, put too much emphasis on my worth in how I preach. But that’s for another post.
Without going into too much detail, a big part of the reason why I can’t seem to find my footing is due to my holes in who I am as a pastor/leader. I have huge flaws in my leadership. I am very well aware of what my shortcomings are.
At my church, the area that needs the strongest pastoral leadership, currently, is where my biggest weaknesses lie. And trying to shore up my weaknesses have been tiring and draining. And taking my attention away from areas where I excel as a pastor and leader. But it’s also been a great learning experience.
I’ve also come appreciate the unpaid servants of our church. Their willingness and capacity to serve amazes me and inspires me. They do this out of their call to serve and their love for Christ and love for the church. Sure, I do that too. But I’m generously compensated to do so. So, at least for me, it’s different. I know many people come to church looking to be inspired by their pastor. But we pastors are inspired by the laity who are so willing to serve.
However, as I dream of year 3, I get spurs of excitement within my bones.
The strange thing is, I don’t know exactly what the excitement is about. But I’m approaching this year with anticipation because I know thath God is going to do great and wondrous things through/with/in us.
I also anticipate tensions, ups and downs, and of course failures. But all of that is expected and part of being a community. We don’t have to agree on everything to be with each other.
But we’re called together to be known as a people who stand for justice, show kindness to others, and live out a vital relationship with God.
And I fully expect us to live out this vision statement of ours throughout this year and beyond.