On August 1, I will have been a pastor at Crosspoint for 10 years. I worked at State Farm for 9.5 years before becoming a pastor, so I’ve now been a pastor longer than I was in the corporate world. Coming up on 10 years has caused a lot of reflection to occur in my life. In that reflection, one overwhelming emotion has been thankfulness. Here are 10 things I’m thankful for after 10 years…
The grace of God
The Father has been so gracious, patient, and faithful to continue His work in me during these years. Apart from the grace of God, I can do nothing. His grace is sufficient at all times, and the longer I go, the more grateful I am for His lavish grace extended to me through Christ. His grace is a transforming grace. It is a grace that not only saves, but sanctifies. I’m thankful for a Father’s hands that are faithful to shape a son’s heart and life more and more into the image of Christ, and a Father who will finish what He has begun in me.
The Word of God
His Word is alive and active, and when taught and preached, it never returns void. I’m thankful for those truths. I was recently reminded by a friend that ultimately, as a pastor, we have two tools at our disposal. Prayer and the Word. Both infinitely more powerful than we will probably fully realize in this life. It is a freeing and powerful thing to know, that as I preach God’s Word and obey that charge, the Spirit of God is at work not only in the hearts of the hearers, but in the heart of the preacher.
When we walked down an aisle after saying ‘I do’ to one another, little did my wife know what she was getting into. Neither did I. And yet, her willingness to walk by faith and trust in God has been so beautiful. The road we are on has not always been easy, but her desire to be alongside me in the mountain tops and in the valleys, has been a testimony of her love for and trust in Jesus. She is my best friend, the one who speaks truth and grace into my life, my sounding board, my counselor, my prayer warrior, my cheerleader, my defender, and my co-laborer. She’s all in as a wife and in ministry, and I’m grateful.
When I left State Farm and moved to Crosspoint, Maddy was 8 and Eli was 6. They won’t remember much of anything from what life was like before dad was a pastor. They’ve extended to me so much grace through the years, and also been willing to tell the truth. They see me at my best and worst. One of Heather and I’s prayers when we began this journey was that our kids would grow up to love Jesus and His local church. We see the Lord answering that prayer in our kids, at the ages they are now. My children have been a safe and restful place for me to land through the years.
Elders, staff and leaders
The church is about one man. And it is not me. It is about the God-man, Jesus Christ. He is the Head of the Body, the Chief Shepherd of the flock, the Cornerstone of the temple, the Vine in which we, as branches, are connected to. I love those truths, and I love how it is displayed in His design for the local church. That the various members and parts would function together in unity as the Body. Specifically, I’m thankful for the elders, staff, and ministry leaders who are alongside me and serve in close proximity to me. I’m grateful for their wisdom, faithfulness, love, creativity, and humility. The Lord uses them not only in His work in the church, but has used them in His work in my heart and life. It is a great joy to call them co-laborers, but it is an even greater joy to call them friends.
I love the church we call home and its people who we call family. More than the people realize. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else than at Crosspoint. The people who have called Crosspoint home through the years, have been so gracious to me as a pastor. Because at the end of the day, I’m a fellow believer right in the middle of God’s sanctifying work in me. I’ve sinned, I’ve made wrong decisions, I’ve said things I wish I wouldn’t have, I’ve fallen short. And so after 10 years, I’m grateful for a church family that is growing in their understanding and living out of the Gospel of God’s grace, and how they see me as not excluded from that grace, but included. I love to follow Jesus alongside you Crosspoint.
In 10 years of pastoral ministry, you experience a lot of pain. I’d been on staff for just four years, when a dear friend and fellow elder passed away. I’ve seen friends suffer from cancer, and sat with dearly loved families as they mourn the loss of a loved one. I’ve watched friends refuse to repent and continue to follow a destructive path of sin. I’ve seen marriages fail despite counsel. I’ve had friends show initial signs of spiritual growth, only to allow the things of this world to choke it out. I’ve had close friends move away. I’ve had friends choose to leave Crosspoint. There is pain in life and in ministry. And while I would not intentionally choose to walk through hurt and loss, I’m thankful for God’s presence in the midst of it, and how He uses it to reveal Himself, shape my heart, and anchor my identity in Him.
In 10 years of pastoral ministry, you also experience a lot of beauty. I’ve seen some of the most beautiful things. I’ve been able to baptize both my children. I’ve been able to baptize dear friends, men, women, and children. I’ve been able to officiate a wedding of a husband and wife being reunited after divorce. It was and continues to be one the most beautiful things I’ve seen in ministry. I’ve been a part of child dedications, adoption proceedings, pastors and missionaries being commissioned. I’ve seen fellow Crosspointers take steps of faith and obedience that reveal their dependence upon the Spirit and not themselves. I’ve seen people break free from addiction by the power of the Spirit, and I’ve watched the tears roll down someone’s face in humble confession of sin. I’ve seen for over 14 years, a group of people, who would call themselves ordinary, be used by an extraordinary God to plant a local church for His glory and purposes.
I’m grateful for the pastors who went before me. Who spoke life into me, who discipled me, who showed me what it looked like to love Jesus, love people, and make disciples. Denny taught me how to speak life into young couples. Bob taught me what it looked like to walk by faith. Jeff taught me how to love people like Jesus loves people. I’m also grateful for the pastors who are alongside me, in fellow churches. Who reject territorial thinking but instead, view our churches as a part of God’s Kingdom and His Body. I learn from these pastors, and I’m so thankful for their friendship and partnership. I’m also thankful for those pastors who are ahead of me, and have been serving far longer than 10 years. I praise God for their friendship and mentorship in my life, and the joy, endurance, and patience they live out.
Eureka is my hometown. I’ve called this area of Illinois home for all of my life, minus one year of college. This is the area the Lord has called me to. I love this mission field, and pray that more and more people would be reached. I pray that, like Paul, I, and the church I pastor, might be faithful to testify to the Gospel of God’s grace. There is more work to be done, and I believe our God is faithful to cause the growth as we plant and water.