Year One: A Look Back at God's Grace
Monday (November 3rd) marked the one year anniversary of Ocean Park calling me to be their pastor. I used to wonder if I would ever become a pastor. It was always something that I dreamed about, prepared for, and worked toward yet I often wondered if it would become a reality. Twelve years working in the corporate world, five years of seminary, and countless church search-committee rejection letters will have that effect on you. During those years I found solace in the life and experience of Moses. In Moses’ life you see three distinct divisions. He lived his first forty years in Egypt, grandson of the Pharaoh, being trained by the best Egyptian scholars (Acts 7:20-29). His next forty years he lived a nearly anonymous life as a shepherd in Midian caring for his father-in-law’s flock (Acts 7:30-34). The final forty years of his life he led the people of Israel out of the bondage of slavery, through the wilderness, and to the cusp of the Promised Land. The eighty years that he spend in Egypt and Midian were instrumental in developing Moses into the leader who God would use mightily to accomplish His purpose and glorify His name (Exodus 3).
In retrospect I can also see the seasons of life that our sovereign God has used to form me into the leader I am today. My time ‘in the Midian wilderness’ was the twelve years of scratching and clawing at the bottom of the corporate ladder where the Lord molded me into the man and pastor that I am today. I witnessed very capable leaders, as well as some of the most atrocious leadership imaginable. At&t gave me first-hand experience of what most people in the church have to deal with between Sunday services. Enduring entitled customers, cranky bosses, the uncertainty of employment from month to month, and the search for significance in a dead-end job, have all made me a better pastor. I never appreciated the lessons I was learning in the corporate world but I can honestly say that I would have it no other way. God’s complete wisdom is deeper than my shallow perspective.
Another season of my life that the Lord used to formulate me as a leader was my time at Christ Fellowship and Sovereign Grace Baptist Church. I cannot begin to measure the impact that these two local church communities have had on my life and my family. It was here that I learned what it meant to be a pastor. Robert Konemann and Shane Waters are men who love the Lord, cherish His Word, and love their flocks. They were humble enough to allow me to see their wounds, learn from their victories, teach me their wisdom, and led my family well. I am continually learning the depth of their ministry and the eternal impact they have made on my soul. It was in the safety of these two churches that I learned how to be a husband, father, and elder. These churches rejoiced with me and cried with me. They helped shoulder the burdens that our family carried and allowed us to help share their loads. Words cannot express how profoundly I have been changed by their love, teaching, and fellowship. It is no coincidence that I have attempted to emulate many of the strengths at Ocean Park.
The past year has been a special time for me. I have been blessed to get to know many new brothers and sisters, to hear your stories, and to see how God is working in your lives. You have given me grace as I made ‘rookie mistakes’, opened your homes to me, and made shepherding this flock a pleasure. I have seen significant growth at Ocean Park as the roots of our church grow deeper in the Word of God and in personal faithfulness. We have been blessed with minimal conflict and the ordinary growing pains of a new pastor have been dealt with respect, humility, and unselfishness. Often it is the family of the pastor that suffers beyond the spotlight of a pastor’s ministry. I am thankful that Ocean Park has loved my family and embraced them as the ordinary members of the church they are. You have been faithful to love them and make them a part of the family. Highlights of the year include three new babies, five baptisms, six new members (with more coming soon), pastor visits, and a fresh vision of why we exist as a church. One of the greatest honors I have had is the opportunity to remember the memory of four saints who have gone to be with the Lord and shepherd their families as they say, “Farewell.” This is something that I do not take lightly but cherish the opportunity to glorify the Gospel through the death of His saints. Each week brings unexpected joys, struggles, and blessings of being a pastor. I know that I am not capable on my own but fully dependent on the Good Shepherd who has called me as His under-shepherd. It is my continual prayer that I would be faithful in the various responsibilities I find myself. My prayer each day is that I am faithful as a husband, father, and pastor (in that order) and trust the Lord with my weaknesses and shortcomings. I also pray that our church cherish the Gospel, dig deep in God’s Word, and be faithful to love one another. If this be our constant desire and unceasing prayer, Ocean Park will weather the storms that will inevitably come, strengthen our covenant community, and reach the lost for the glory of God alone!