It is hard to believe how my life has changed over these past seven years. Today, seven years ago, I started full-time as pastor of Cornerstone. For the 12 years before that, I worked as a mechanical engineer crash testing airplane seats and designing weight lifting equipment. That seems like a distant memory now, and I can honestly say I’m doing what God has called me to do.
Over the past seven years, I have seen my children grow and mature in the Lord, with all three putting their faith and trust in Christ. I have seen our church grow and mature in the Lord, with many people serving in our community and around the world. And I have seen myself grow and mature. When I started, I was a young 33 years old with my only experience in ministry as a part-time youth minister. Now, after seven years, I am finally starting to see myself as a pastor.
I have learned much about myself and about leadership. It has not been an easy journey. In fact, it has been much harder than I would have ever imagined. I serve an amazing church, and the congregation has been incredibly supportive and caring. But I have also experienced many critics along the way, and they have taught me the importance of having a tender heart and thick skin. I quickly realized that my natural leadership abilities were not enough. I had to learn to depend on God and I even went back to seminary to earn my Master’s Degree in Christian Leadership.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn is to give away ministry. I am naturally a doer, so Ephesians 4:11-12 has been a constant reminder for me to equip and empower others. I have learned that I can’t do everything, and that I need to learn a rhythm of life that can sustain me for a fruitful life of ministry. Before I was hired, the church changed our by-laws to ensure that I would receive a one-month sabbatical every three years.
With the pace of life over these past seven years, I have not taken advantage of that time to replenish and refresh my soul. So this August, after seven years, I will finally be taking a month-long sabbatical to work on my relationship to my God and my family. I am excited to slow down, and I am excited to spend extended time in study and prayer. I am making plans to work on getting back into shape, and I am also making plans to disconnect from all church work during the month. It is already exciting to see people step up, and I am thankful for the opportunity. My goal is to be able to be in ministry for the rest of my life, and the Biblical principle of sabbath and rest cannot be ignored. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the next seven years!