Half Of 56 Is 28

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.