Since I am retiring from full-time pastoral ministry at the end of this coming July, a call committee at our church has begun the process of preparing to call the next pastor for our congregation. That process includes asking each member of the congregation what abilities, skills, strengths, experience and priorities they would like to see in their next pastor.
I am prepared to be humbled.
Why? First of all, because I’m human, a sinner, and nowhere close to being perfect. I know that either blatantly or subtly, my weaknesses will be highlighted in the responses to this survey. The members of the congregation will frankly tell the call committee what they would never say to my face. Their wishes for the next pastor will expose my weaknesses, failures and negligence.
I’m ready for that.
Trust me, I know my weaknesses. I am very aware of all the things I should have done over the past twenty-four years at this church. My insufficiencies haunt me daily. I did not study, pray, visit, administrate, evangelize, discipline, preach, teach, counsel, participate and celebrate like I should have or could have. I angered, frustrated, annoyed, irritated, insulted, ignored, and drove away many. I did it for the money, the notoriety and my ego.
I do not deny any of that.
When this church called me to be their pastor, they called a sinner. A sinner that deserves temporal and eternal punishment, a sinner redeemed by Christ, a sinner who squeaks into heaven by the grace of God. What did you expect? A saint? A super-hero? Someone you could look up to?
I never wanted you to look up to me. I wanted you to look to Christ. He’s the one who was obedient, he’s the one who was crucified and he’s the one who rose. He’s the one who will meet your hopes, expectations and dreams.
Me? I’m just me. And I am grateful I got to be your pastor for these last twenty-three or four years. What a gift.