I spent just about the entire day at my alma matter, MidAmerica Nazarene University. My reason for doing this is that I'm committed to growing toward health as a pastor. I did three things today at MNU that contribute toward growth and health.
1) Pastor Andy and I talked with one of my mentors, Roy Rotz, about how we can better communicate. Now don't get all freaked out about this, I'm not saying Andy and I are going through major issues. After a year of working together, however we've learned that we're often missing each other. Our different personalities mean we have different communication skills. Roy helped us learn what we need to do to effectively communicate with each other. I'm committed to being the leader that Andy deserves.
2) I taught theology students how model and communicate Christ-likeness to my community. This helped me refocus my pastoral intentionality and allowed me to stretch some future pastors. Of course, in the dialogue, I learned from these students as well. I'm committed to investing in future pastors.
3) I spent a couple hours talking with Larry Fine, a former professor. More than any other professor at MNU, Larry's classes from 10 years ago still impact my daily preaching and teaching. During our time together he heaped a lot of praise on me and TFC, "You're doing great things, I'm proud of you," he helped me think through some theological issues (both affirming and challenging) and he called me out in some ways he believes I could mature. I need this type of dialogue. I need both affirmation and accountability from those wiser than myself. I'm committed to maintaining a humble spirit of teachability.
One of the things Larry confirmed is my commitment to pastoring not only my congregation but my community. I'm about 75/25 in my time given to TFC and my time given to Gardner as a whole. I'd love to see that percentage even out. Larry said that he's heard a lot of pastors say "I'm a pastor to my community" but thought they were only giving lip service. He said the stories and examples I told in class prove that I'm really being effective at pastoring my community. Saying yes to some community stuff means I have to say no to some congregational stuff. I'm earnestly seeking God's guidance as I strive to find a healthy balance.
Larry also believes Love Wins is one of the coolest things he's seen in a church. Yep, that's my wife for ya!
10 years from now I want to be a much better pastor than I am right now. 40 years from now, I want to be moving into a satisfied retirement. A firm commitment to some regular disciples is how I'll reach those goals.