This is my first column for the United News in the position I was appointed to just about a month ago. While many of you know me, many more do not so I will use this first column to share with you some of my thoughts as my wife and I embark on a new chapter in our lives and our service to God and you.
The past month we have been doing a lot of thinking and introspection.
For the past 11 years, we have had the absolute pleasure and honor of pastoring the Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida, congregations. Having had a long, progressively fulfilling career in the business world, primarily in finance and administration in corporate multi-state healthcare settings, then in founding and running a healthcare management company for client hospitals and surgeons, our lives took a turn in 2011 when we received a call, asking if we would consider becoming full-time pastor for four churches in Florida (Orlando, Jacksonville, Ocala and Tallahassee).
Feeling a bit inadequate for the job, we accepted and began what have been the most rewarding and satisfying years of our lives. We have always loved the people of God wherever we lived, but serving His people in this role has been fulfilling in a way we could not have imagined.
Through the years, we have shared many joys and happy moments with our brethren. Baptisms, marriages, the birth of children, Feasts of Tabernacles, job promotions, graduations, working with people and seeing them apply God’s way of life and experience the benefits, and sensing the “family spirit” and unity among us are among those joys.
But life as a pastor is not always a “bed of roses,” as we all know. Along with the joys of our spiritual fellowship with God and each other, life can be full of “toils and tears” as one of our popular church hymns says.
Indeed, when we are living God’s way, joy should be in our hearts no matter what we may be going through, as we understand God is working with us, training us, preparing us to fill the roles He has planned for us in His Kingdom. There is no greater calling in life than that which God gives us, and when we keep the vision of what He is doing at the forefront of our minds, there is that “peace that surpasses all understanding” and the energy and zeal to go forward.
Those times of “toil and tears, doubts and fears” can be tough. Like you, we’ve cried with people as they have lost loved ones, seen relationships fall apart, or suffered financial setbacks or lingering illness. There have been tears when some chose to forsake God in order to follow their own ideas and ways. There has been frustration and disappointment when some resist God’s word or teaching. “Was there something more we could have done or were there better words we could have said?” Our hearts ache when people choose to leave the fellowship.
We learn patience, we learn respect, we learn to look to God for answers, and we learn to love the way God loves. He never gives up on us. He is patient. He is merciful. He loves (Greek agape) us and is not willing that any should fall by the wayside.
We must do that, too, as we grow in “one-ness” with each other and in the unity of the Spirit and faith.
The term “pastor” in the Bible comes from the Greek word meaning “shepherd.” While we have not been shepherds in the physical sense of the word, over the years, we have come to understand that Jesus Christ, the Head of this Church, is our “Great Shepherd.” He knows what we need. His Spirit guides us into all truth and understanding. He teaches, He leads, He feeds, He knows the way to the Kingdom where He is leading us.
He is the way, truth and life.
We must learn to yield, follow, trust and rely on Him. We must diligently seek His will and what is “well-pleasing” to Him.
We learn many things in the various areas and responsibilities God gives us during our physical lifetimes—both in service in His Church and in the world in which we live and work. Truly, God is preparing all of us in His special, loving way.
Let Him, through His Holy Spirit, lead you.
As my wife and I embark on this new chapter of our lives, we will seek His will and are asking for wisdom that we may serve Him and you well.
The road ahead will bring some difficult times and trials. People will not want to hear God’s message of truth. As recorded in 2 Timothy 3:13 2 Timothy 3:13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
American King James Version×, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse.” Now is the time for us to be preparing our hearts for those times. Commit to God, build trust, reliance and our hope in Him.
Let’s all join together in seeking God’s will and what is “well-pleasing” to Him, then doing His work and bringing glory to His name forever. Amen (Hebrews 13:20-21 Hebrews 13:20-21  Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×).