Slow Down & Remember
Just about every Sunday morning begins the same way for me. I get to church at 8:30 AM - a half an hour before almost anyone else arrives - and I head straight for my office. Now occasionally I'll have a few last minute details to take care of before church gets started that morning...but those days are rare.
So most Sunday mornings, when I walk into my office, the first thing I do is grab my iPad out of my backpack (I keep my sermon notes on the iPad) and the Bible I'll be preaching from that morning off of my desk and I head to our sanctuary.
That's the way I've started just about every Sunday morning for the last 4 years. Get to church. Pull out the iPad. Grab my Bible. Head to the sanctuary. I've done it so many times that I barely even think about it these days.
But this past Sunday morning, as I reached down to grab my Bible off my desk, I stopped dead in my tracks. And I just stared at the front cover of that Bible.
As you can see in the picture above, the cover is pretty simple. It's black leather with my name and numbers embossed in gold down in the bottom corner. Those numbers are 2-22-2004: February 22, 2004.
Now, I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that February 22, 2004 doesn't mean anything to you. But for me, it's a day I'll never forget because February 22, 2004 was the day that I was ordained into the ministry.
So, on the morning of February 22, 2004, I gathered in the sanctuary of the church I grew up in with countless friends and family members who had helped my grow in my faith over the years. I sat in the front row of the sanctuary listening as some of those people stood up on the stage and said some pretty nice things about me. The pastor of the church, someone I'd know for years, offered my a challenge and commission as I began my journey in ministry. Then I kneeled on the floor in front of the communion table as every ordained person in that church came and laid their hands on me.
I should note that they did this one person at a time...and it went on for over twenty minutes. So by the time they finished and the pastor asked me to stand, my knees were like Jell-O. So let me give you a quick tip unrelated to this post: when you oversee and ordination, give the person or people being ordained a chair to sit in instead of asking them to kneel.
After I got my legs back under me, I was presented with my official ordination certificate (which is hanging on the wall behind my desk right now) and the Bible that I preached from last Sunday morning. Last Sunday morning was February 23, 2020.
And, as I walked in my office to grab that Bible, I was struck by how long ago my ordination took place. It has been 16 years since I was ordained into the ministry. And a lot has gone on in my life and ministry over those years.
In the last 16 years, I have been called to new churches and left old ones. I have moved into a small country town and major American city. I have performed a handful of weddings and more funerals than I can count. I've presided over baptisms and my fair share of ordination services as well.
In the last 16 years, I have seen people grow in their faith - and I've seen their lives change as they truly commit to following Jesus.
But most days I'm too caught up on the next thing on my agenda to take the time to reflect on how God has used me and my ministry over the last 16 years. So I'm thankful that I had that Bible sitting on my desk on Sunday morning.
I'm thankful for that simple reminder that made my slow down and remember.
And no matter where you're at in your ministry - whether you're just starting out or are further along this journey than I am - I want to encourage you to take time to slow down and remember. Slow down and remember your time in ministry. Think about the people you've served and seen grow. Think about the ways you've been their for others in times of joy and times of sadness. Think about the people that you've helped start their own journey in ministry or their own relationship with God.
Take time to slow down and remember...and let those memories fuel you to continue to serve God and your church today.