“Sounds like a good life” was the last of three emails I received last week from someone I did not know but who contacted me. He was working on a book about a specific aspect of ministry and wanted feedback on the first chapter from some pastors. I don’t know how he got my name and email. I told him I had stepped down from my position of Senior Pastor over a year ago and declined.
I was surprised but appreciative that he wrote back and asked, “What are you doing now?” To which I replied, “Teaching as an adjunct professor, writing, and guest preaching. But my favorite is being a grandpa!” His five word final email got my attention: “Sounds like a good life.”
Prior to this previously unknown pastor’s observation I hadn’t really thought much about how good my current life is. Do I miss leading, working, serving, and preaching as Senior Pastor? Yes I do; most of it. But I have never regretted or questioned my decision to step down after 44 years of ministry and the last 30 at the church I planted. It was a good life. But as my new friend observed, so also is what I am privileged to do now.
Teaching first year college students is both challenging and rewarding. As each semester plays out, and I get to know the students, I find myself relating to them like I did to young adults in the church. What an opportunity I have to teach two introductory Bible classes.
Writing is a joy but it also can be a grind. Occasionally what I want to write flows but usually it takes a lot more time and effort than you might think. (I rewrote the previous sentence five times and I’m still not satisfied!) While completing something brings a sense of accomplishment, hearing from those who read and appreciated what you wrote is the payoff. (I am currently finishing a book entitled Questioning Jesus: Considering His Responses that I hope will be available in January.)
Guest preaching is a delight. I love to preach and being invited to different churches to do so is an honor. With 40 years of messages the hardest part is choosing which one to pull out of the file to brush up on and update. I give attention to making sure what I teach is something I am excited about and is fresh. And the people everywhere I have been in the past 14 months have been responsive and complimentary.
I was a grandpa before I stepped down in October of 2014 but the role has continued to evolve and become more and more a privilege. Our two grandsons are now 5 and 2 and with my new schedule I have been able to go to Texas more frequently. Everyone (especially me!) is so excited when we arrive. But with the passing of time I do become fatigued playing games someone my age should not be playing. (So far I have not had any serious injuries.) Then as we prepare to leave and load the car I am sad; and I usually shed a few tears as we drive away.
I have been far more personal in this post than usual and I hope you are encouraged by my update. Does it sound like a good life to you? To me it not only sounds like a good life, it is a good life!
Feel free to share this with others and I welcome comments below.
Photo credit: grandma.