Pastoral ministry is filled with ups and downs. Sometimes the ups are mixed in with the downs, like when a funeral is both an emotional (if temporary) farewell and a celebration of a life lived for God and others. I have been blessed in pastoring four churches over the course of thirty-plus years of active ministry, to count far more ups than downs, far more blessings than disappointments. So I thought I’d take a few moments to try, hard as it will be, to recall my ten favorite moments as a pastor. The list will necessarily be far too short and exclude far too many great moments. And, relying as it does on a memory that grows more and more selective with every passing day, it will certainly be flawed from the beginning. But following (as well as I can recall) are ten of my favorite moments as a pastor:
- Dedicating my children AND grandchildren. What a joy it has been, over the last thirty-some years, to gratefully (and tearfully, every time) participate in dedicating first my own children, and then my children’s children, to the loving service of God.
- Marrying my son to his wife. I barely got through the ceremony without becoming a blubbering mass of emotion...but I did. So blessed to join Aaron and Nina in marriage.
- Taking my children to the Holy Land in 2001. It is impossible to describe the joy of hosting and teaching my teenage children in the land of Jesus, the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles.
- First Sunday in The Loft. In late 2008, I was overjoyed to lead the people of Cobblestone Community Church in occupying “The Loft,” our first Sunday in a permanent facility after eight years as a portable church.
- Barefoot Sunday. In 2010, I concluded a Thanksgiving Sunday sermon by challenging the
- Aaron singing Daughters. On Father’s Day a few years ago, I asked the worship team to punctuate my message with a rendition of the John Mayer song, Daughters. The worship pastor assigned the task to my son, and it couldn’t have been better.
- Pizza after church. For the four years of pastoring in Cincinnati and during our short sojourn in Youngstown, we often gathered after Sunday night service with a sterling group of friends for pizza and fellowship at our house. Those friendships endure to this day.
- Sons of Korah concert in The Loft. I had long been blessed by the Biblical-psalms-set-to-music ministry of the Australian group, Sons of Korah, when I learned that they would be coming to the U.S. It was a marvelous blessing to have this internationally-acclaimed group present a concert in The Loft.
- The day a car was given away. In October 2010, I told the story in a message of a pastor and his wife who gave away nine cars in eighteen months, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In the midst of that story, I pointed to a young woman on the front row who had mentioned to me between first and second celebration how she really needed a car. So I pointed her out in the second celebration and told the church, “there's a young woman here who could really use a car if you have one to give away." Right after the celebration ended, my wife and I prayed with her and her mom for God to meet her needs, and less than three minutes after we said amen, a young couple who'd been sitting just a couple rows behind her in worship had given her a car!
- Hilary Watson at The Corner. A few years ago, while our church was still portable on Sundays, we hosted a Saturday night coffeehouse worship service, and the singer/songwriter Hilary Watson sang that night and the next morning in our middle school digs. But those moments at The Corner were extra special.
That list could easily be expanded by a hundred or so, if I were to list the blessed weddings, dedications, and--yes--even funerals at which I've been honored to minister. But, as someone has said, "ain't nobody got time for that."