This time of year especially we begin to get nostalgic about the year that is ending and begin to look ahead to the year that is beginning. It is an annual turning of the page that becomes a natural event in our lives.
In a lot of ways 2015 was a tough year. The funerals we were a part of were way too many.
In February, my dear friend Bill Houpt graduated to glory. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think about him. The life experiences we shared are some of the most precious memories I have. Even the NFL season is different this year, somehow it just doesn’t mean as much. I have even found myself picking up my phone to call him on occasion. The impact he had on a generation of youth ministers in Kentucky no one will know this side of heaven.
Also this year, two other men who invested in me as a young minister, Jerry Kibbons, a professor I had at Campbellsville, who also performed Gina’s and my wedding, passed away, as did Mike Watts, the pastor who brought us to Edgewood. Both of these men saw more in me than I saw in myself, put me in a place to succeed, and took a chance on a young minister.
We also lost a former student, Antonio Webb. Tonio was a vital part of our youth group in Hopkinsville. He was much too young and his passing left a huge hole in a lot of lives.
There have been other things that will make me glad the pages of 2015 are coming to an end. Dear friends have lost jobs, marriages have fallen apart, and terrorists are bombing innocent victims all across the globe.
But, we are not all gloom and doom. 2015 also had some great moments.
I got to see hundreds of students cross over from death to life this summer at camp! I also got the opportunity to pour into both the Milton and Corn Creek Baptist churches in Trimble County as their interim/long term supply pastor. Our son Jordan and his wife Kaitlyn bought their first house, and our daughter moved into an apartment in Old Louisville (a place where she has always wanted to live).
Friends and ministry partners have started new jobs, had or adopted new babies, were married or had kids to get married. It has been a year not a lot unlike other years. Each has its share of joys and sorrow and all around us, every day, life happens.
As the page of 2015 turns, let’s take time to look around, evaluate where we are in ministry, our relationships, and our walk with God.
For some of us, we know that 2016 needs to bring a new ministry assignment. If in your heart you know that is the case, begin now to be proactive, seek the face of God and good counsel from friends, and trust God to take care of you. Don’t be afraid to take a leap to a new place.
Others I know of need to stay put. Things are tough, the ministry/church you are serving needs you there. But most importantly, God’s call to there is still on you. It may be easier to leave and start fresh, but I don’t ever remembering God calling us to something easy.
For some, it is time to spend the next season focusing on your family. Your kids/spouse are starving for your attention, and you have sacrificed them on that altar of busyness. Recruit volunteers, let some things go on your calendar, but make it a priority to be there. You family needs to know that they are just as important as those people at the church.
Finally take some time as the page turns and examine your spiritual walk. It is easy to talk a good game. But honestly where is your relationship with God. If the only time you are reading scripture is to prepare a lesson or sermon, and your only prayer life is in front of a crowd or before a meal, changes need to be made immediately.