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The Last Ten Years

Today is January 1, 2020. As I type, the new year and decade (depending on how you reckon a decade) is approximately nine hours old. I’ve been awake for about four of those hours.

Reflecting on the last ten years, I’m amazed at how much has changed and what remains the same. Along the way, we encountered a few challenges and have been reminded of some very important truths.

The changes …

  • We spent our first full year in Denver, having relocated from San Diego and a church we helped start.
  • Both of our girls graduated high school.
  • Our oldest daughter, Hannah, just graduated from Bethel University.
  • Our youngest daughter, Hope, is a sophomore at the University of Northern Colorado.
  • Tonya has been teaching at Southeast Christian School for nearly seven years.
  • We bought a house.
  • We bought both girls their first cars.
  • Parts of our family traveled to places like Nepal, Jamaica, and Europe.
  • I started as a teaching pastor, became the spiritual formation pastor, then “interim” executive pastor, and have now served as senior pastor for six years.
  • Tonya’s grandmother celebrated her 100th birthday in December of 2019.

The challenges …

  • I battled work-related discouragement for most of the first four years as my competence was under constant attack. This led to an erosion of my confidence for the first time in nearly 30 years of ministry.
  • This season culminated with our elders asking for our senior pastor’s resignation and we had to navigate a period when wild rumors and untruths were being told about me and my family.
  • The impact of these four years extended over into the first few years in my new role. In some ways, it has never left me (like Jacob in Genesis 32, I walked away from that experience with a limp).
  • When I stepped in as the new senior pastor, my top priority was rebuilding the morale of the church. I’m proud of our staff and elders as we were able to do just that.
  • In less than twelve months, we raised nearly $1.5 million dollars and completely transformed our building. We maintained regular programming while our building was in various stages of demolition and remodeling.
  • Today, the church has done more than just survive — we are thriving. We are outward-focused, life-giving, prayer-dependent, financially healthy, and serious about maintaining a healthy staff culture.

The reminders …

  • I’ve been reminded to find my validation and purpose in Jesus and not in my job, though that distortion is never far behind me.
  • I’ve been reminded to treasure family and put their needs ahead of my own. I am a husband and dad and then a pastor. When my work was most challenging, we made the decision to stick with it because our girls were both in good schools with good friends. That turned out to be the right decision.
  • I’ve been reminded that unhealthy people become unhealthy leaders. Or, as a colleague often says, broken people break things. I’ve become much more intentional about self-care and being emotionally healthy.
  • I’ve been reminded of the need for pastoral friendships. I’m thankful God brought a local pastor into my life and for the opportunity to laugh and learn together. At times, it’s been like a release valve.

Through the last ten years, the most important lesson I’ve learned is this: God is faithful. Though I might still carry a limp, I also carry with me many lessons that can only be learned the hard way. They have made me a better follower of Jesus, a better husband and father, and a better leader. And even though there might be a limp, by God’s grace I’m still running!

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Experience and Background

  • Professor at Warner University
  • masters in business administration (mba)
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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