End of the year is near, crazy as it seems. I always enjoy looking back on the year. We always need to be mindful to take time to reflect. God is always working, moving, speaking, teaching, guiding, and pouring out his grace on us. It is hard to see a lot of it while we are in the thick of it. We see more clearly when we are a little removed.
It is much easier to see the intricacies of a meadow when we are on an overlooking hill and than when we are wandering through it.
Here are some personal reflection from 2013:
- My roles as Husband, Father, and Pastor have an incredible ability to make me feel like I am the greatest in the world one minute and absolutely worthless the next. Over the last year this has been a great reminder to keep those three roles what they are… roles. They are not and cannot be my identity. If I put my hope in my “success” in those areas my spiritual and emotional life will be dependent on how I am performing at that time. Thankfully, through Jesus, God has given me a better way. My hope is to be in Him and my identity is derived from my union with Jesus, nothing else.
- I am who I am. I have now been a full time pastor for 2 1/2 years. I have learned a lot about myself in that time, probably most in the last year though. I went through a very tough season spiritually and emotionally this last year. My family and ministry suffered because of it. Through this dark season though I got a clearer picture of who I am. I better learned what my limits are, what pitfalls to look out for, and what my gifts are and aren’t. Some people use “I am who I am” as an excuse. I want to use it as a catalyst to grow.
- My family doesn’t just need me, I need them. As a young pastor you always hear, “Family first! Don’t neglect your family in the name of ministry.” While I certainly want to follow this what I really learned this year was my need for them. Yes, my family can’t make it if I don’t balance family-ministry well. Along with that though is the realization that I can’t make it without that balance. For the first time in my life my family truly has become a refuge for me. My home has become the safe, encouraging place that I need it to be. I am grateful for my incredible wife.
- Being a father is getting more fun all the time. I am not a fan of babies. Carrying a car seat, waking up in the middle of the night, holding a child all the time, and changing a ton of diapers is not appealing to me. I know some people love that stage. I hate it. I am so glad that my youngest is now 2 and chooses to be very independent. Having a 5 and 2 year old is a lot better than a 3 year old and a 6 month old. We have gone from trying to get them to eat on their own to playing soccer and jumping on the trampoline. It is awesome.
- I have to get back to reading more. In Bible college I was reading 30+ books a year (I hit 45 one year!). This last year I read about 8. Horrible. Reading is relaxing, joyful, and productive for me. I have to make this discipline a higher priority again. I am aiming for 15-20 this year. By not being as disciplined as I need to be in some areas this particular area that is very good for my soul has been cut way too thin.
- I am so very thankful for so many people. I feel like I connect with people in an uncommon way. God has always given me great depth in my relationships while at the same time having significant, widespread relationships. While sometimes it is people that cut, hurt, and wound- for me, God uses people to encourage me an insane amount. He does it in the day to day. I am usually most encouraged when people aren’t necessarily trying to be encouraging they are just being… people. He has simply given me a deep love for people and I am very thankful for them.
In all, 2013 was one of the toughest years I have had. I have grown a lot and am very encouraged moving forward. As always, God was very gracious to me over this last year. He truly is a good Father to his children.