Around July fifteenth of this year, we will have completed eighteen years as pastor and family at Crestview Baptist Church in Georgetown, Texas. That is just a little less than half of the years that we have been privileged to serve in pastoral ministry. When the Lord gave me a sense of peace in coming to Georgetown, I had no idea that I would be here this long. At this point, I am fairly confident that Crestview will be my last pastorate. Believe it or not, I still get inquiries from churches although I am sixty one. They don’t seem to know my age, and don’t back off when I tell them. None of these churches bear the marks of the kind of assignment that the Lord has typically given me, and I am inclined to think that my job for the rest of my ministry as a pastor is to do my best to see Crestview realize her purpose in the present and ready her for the future.
When friends from around the state ask me about how things are going here, I am glad to answer and say that we seem to be having our very best days since the beginning of our work here. That is an awesome reality. Through the years, I have been keenly aware of pastors who may have stayed too long in one place and saw their work decline. I am also aware of pastors whose churches waited patiently for their retirement and were quietly eager for that day. What I hear most often is people who say things like, “You are surely not going to retire for awhile are you.” People planning to join often ask me, “You aren’t going anywhere for awhile are you?” They then go on to say that they hope I will be in place for quite a few more years.
I have always said that I do not want to stay anywhere that I have ceased to be effective. Once during my time here I had a good opportunity to leave for a very important assignment. I interviewed several leaders and some of my staff and ask them to be candid with me. I asked them if they still felt I was being effective at Crestview. I also told them that if I needed to get out of the way and allow the church to move on without me that this was the opportunity for me to do so. It was not a pastorate. It was the position of Evangelism Director for our state convention. It was the third time that a position in evangelism leadership had been offered to me. I was assured by each of them that they felt our ministry together was not over. Please know that I did not believe it was either, but I recognize that there can be blind spots and we need to consider other viewpoints. I am so glad God led me to stay put. We have seen such great days since then that I would not have wanted to miss them. However, I must say that even in that choice I was tested for a time with some really difficult years in our work here. You may recall that I recently said in a message that every time a door of opportunity opens their is also a test. My exact words were, “opportunity and adversity go together.” I have learned that truth not only on the basis of 1 Corinthians 16:9, but also by many years of experience in walking through open doors.
I have always said that I want to finish strong please pray for me as I press toward the finish line that I will be clear minded and strong in my message and witness and that God will walk with Shannon and I through these coming days as we press toward the mark of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ.