When I walked up to the door of FBC for the first time, it was Phil Lilly who met me at the door. In typical Phil fashion, he had two umbrellas and a welcome manual ready to share. It did not take me long to realize the role he had played in holding things as together as possible during the interim period and what a humble, hard-working servant he was and still is. He covers bases with the best of them, as he teaches, visits, officiates, negotiates, and holds frank and friendly discussions with the FDOT. And he has done all this while reducing his role to part-time and taking precious little time away from home.
If you have read this far, you may be panicked, fearing that Phil is ready to retire or something. Well, fear not. But he is going to get some well-deserved time away and then return to a more tightly-defined role on the FBC ministry team. Phil and Carol will be taking a month away from St. Pete beginning week after next. I hear Yellowstone is a first stop and they may be making it up as they go from there (that is so not Phil but very Carol). You can call it a vacation, sabbatical, or heartfelt thank-you for standing in the gap so well for so long – all of the above fits. And I have instructed Phil to not even think about us while they are gone – we got this. He may or may not follow those instructions, but I know Carol and I hope he will.
When he returns, his work and time will be more focused on pastoral care and senior adults. He will help us as he can with a detail or two, but we want to free him up to focus more on people than things. Moreover, we want to provide more freedom to be away from time to time without feeling that urgent and important things are being left unattended. This is a win for us – Dr. Phil stays aboard and continues to love, serve, and belong with us. We begin the work of shaping the staff for the future as we add and reallocate staff and staff responsibilities. And it is a win for Phil. He gets unleashed from time to time, yet gets to do what he does so well and enjoys so much.
I know you’ll join me in thanking Phil for the incredible work he has done for nearly a decade. It’s time to say thanks in a tangible way. And then, come late June or so, it’s back to work if you can call it that. Doing what you love to do, where you want to do it, with the people you want to do it with is a great gift. I know it. And fortunately for us, through Phil, it is a gift that will keep on giving.