I realized something with a jolt the other day: I have been a pastor for over half of my life.
I graduated from seminary and started work at Mt. Carmel & Midway United Methodist Churches in Monroe, NC, in 1990 at the age of 28. I am now 56, so you do the math.
Here’s what we looked like back in that day:
Riley is not in the picture because he had yet to be born.
So what are some things that I could do at 28 that I can’t at 56? Here are a few:
- Drop by people’s homes, unannounced, at 5 p.m. in the afternoon “just to visit.”
- Spend an entire morning in a small office adjacent to our parsonage working on future sermons.
- Now that you mention it, live in a parsonage.
- Know the telephone number of everyone in the church from memory.
- Work the office photocopy machine. Type, print, and fold Sunday bulletins.
Now: what are some things I can do at 56 that I couldn’t do at 28?
- Tell people difficult truths in a direct way. I do a lot less Clinical Pastor Education-type “reflective” listening, and a bit more directed advice. Just this week, I have been so grateful (and so liberated) to have challenging truths received in redemptive ways.
- Wear jeans to preach.
- Have sermons broadcast over the internet.
- Celebrate Sundays with people from over 40 nations, all colors, most cultures.
- Casually throw the phrase, “yeah, Abingdon turned them into books” into conversation.
- Write a blog about the difference between being 56 and 28.