When I graduated high school I had no idea that I would be a minister. Honestly, the two pressing possibilities were singer/songwriter and baseball coach. I loved weaving words and feelings together to tell a story, make a point, and move the listener. And I likewise loved strategically thinking my way around the diamond, reading the situation, making decisions, and setting folks up to succeed. Turns out that as a senior pastor I get to do a lot of those things almost daily. The same passions and pursuits come in more than handy in the daily office that I treasure and take very seriously. But no frontman or skipper can do it alone. And if he could, what would it matter? Loving what you do and the people you do it with is the secret to good music and good baseball.
With last week’s welcoming of John and Sara Rice, I cannot contain my joy at the completion of what I have referred to as my starting five. (I know I’m mixing metaphors. But I suppose when you add the managerial and office staff, we can round our Mudville nine.) I marvel, as I hope you do too, at the collective gifts of John, Sara, Chris, and Aimee. To get to be the captain of such a team, assembled in just two years and change gives me joyful hope, resolve, and encouragement beyond my wildest dreams. I feel like Steve Kerr when he handed the Golden State Warriors to Bill Walton’s boy, “Just don’t mess it up.”
The thanks for gathering this team lands in a lot of laps. First, the providence of God cannot be dismissed. Hither by thy help we’ve come. And I thank four remarkable pastors for hearing the call and casting their ministerial lot at the corner of 275 and Gandy. None of them had to, but each felt the Lord’s leading and embraced the reality of what was not yet here, but will be. And I thank the FBC leadership for giving the nod to make the invitations and fill the positions, frankly a little ahead of schedule and demonstrable capacity. Lastly, I thank the folks who make up this great and growing church who give fellowship to our leadership and are stepping up to provide the financial resources warranted by the commitments we have collectively made.
I’ll brag on all of these often because that’s what I am prone to do. And because I feel it with all my heart. The essential role of pastors, according to the New Testament, is to equip the laity to do the work of the saints. We will lead boldly but are reliant on our folks trusting that lead and giving themselves wholly to the tasks at hand. It happens when a musician joyfully plays or sings. It happens when someone expends time and energy to meet a need that they didn’t have to, but the Spirit persuaded them to. It happens when a teacher expands her influence by taking on a new assignment and helping us reach and grow more, and better disciples. It happens when a satisfied customer invites a friend to experience community and life in Christ. And it happens when we write the check, or in today’s parlance, hit the submit button in faithful generosity. All it takes is the reality that it takes it all.
In the weeks ahead we will do more to more intimately introduce you to the folks who make up your starting five. You will hear our hearts and know our stories. You will get a picture of what we are envisioning for the great days a-coming. And hopefully, you will grow in trust of this group’s giftedness, but more important, our love for the Lord and people he sweetly allows us to lead. Know this; your pastor and staff loves you and are absolutely smitten by the ministry that we all may shape and share together. Love and lead. Equip and engage. That’s what we do. That’s how we will close the gap between all that we are and all that God’s desires us to be.