Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Re-evaluating the things we value

Our house in in chaos.

No matter where you turn there are piles of stuff everywhere and even higher piles of boxes. Of course, we're moving. I suppose I'm thankful that we're not moving across the country or overseas, but once everything is in the back of a truck I don't know that distance matters too much.

For the last six years I have had the distinct pleasure of being the pastor of two churches in Central Ohio, Johnsville Grace and Steam Corners. As a pastor in the United Methodist Church, I (and my colleagues) serve as an itinerant minister. That means that I don't have to find a church where I can be in ministry and it means that local churches don't have to conduct extensive pastor searches when they feel the need for change. It also means that we have to move when the bishop says we should move (there's a little wiggle room in there, but not much). The end result is that after a series of meetings and interviews, my family and I are moving to Barnesville, Ohio and on July 1st, I will become the pastor of Barnesville First United Methodist Church.

Moving sucks pond water.

I despise the hassle of packing and changing schools, doctors, grocery stores, pharmacies and uprooting nearly every aspect of my life. On the other hand, I have begun to see an unexpected value in moving. Moving causes me to re-evaluate the last six years of my life. I have had to reexamine my call to ministry, the engineering career that I left behind, and I've had to take a hard look at what I have accomplished where I am. When we move our belongings, we take a look at a lot of stuff that never got a second glance most days and we need to decide if these things are worth keeping. In the same way, I find that I need to do these things with my ministry. In six years I have done a lot of stuff and I have met with a lot of people. Some of that stuff, and some of those memories are real gold but, like my stuff at home, mixed in with my treasure is a fair amount of useless baggage that I need to leave behind.

The process of getting rid of my kids outgrown clothes and broken toys is useful and something we probably ought to do once in a while. It's too easy to stuff things in the basement or in the attic but moving forces us to make choices. The process of leaving behind the things I've collected in six years of ministry is sometimes even harder but in the process I've discovered some things that have real, lasting value. There are people who have been real friends. There have been incredible acts of kindness and generosity. There have been real life transformations. As I leave, and as I reevaluate, I can see that God has been at work in me, in this place and in these people.

Amid the chaos and the pain... I've discovered real gold.

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