This is the first time I’ve written a blog in the past couple of years, but I thought it appropriate to get back on the horse in order to share with you about what God is doing in my life and where He is leading me and my family.
A few months ago I accepted a position to be the Preschool and Children’s Pastor at a church in Chattanooga, TN. Marissa, my two lovely daughters, and I will be moving during the month of May, and I officially begin my new role on June 1st. I’ll be under the leadership of a close friend with a big vision, and I’m excited to join him on this new adventure. The news hasn’t been communicated to his congregation yet, so I’ll refrain from using the church’s name and the name of my future leader.
Thankfully my current church family, Grace Community Church, will allow me to stay in my position through the end of April so I can finish up with important projects, help with the transition of leadership, and selfishly use the time to prepare my heart to say goodbye to some of the best kids, parents, and leaders I’ve ever known. This is also a huge blessing to my wife and seven year old daughter. Marissa is a school teacher and wouldn’t dream of leaving her kids midyear, and Emma needs to finish 2nd Grade with her best buddy and her teacher whom she adores.
It’s crazy to think that my family and I have lived in Clarksville for almost eight years. Time has definitely flown by. My time at Grace started in a little Mexican restaurant on a Sunday afternoon enjoying a meal with the church’s founder, Ron Edmondson. After I listed all the reasons why I should stay in Chattanooga (where Marissa was raised and where I had lived for eight years), Ron encouraged me to take a risk, move my family to Clarksville, and join a great adventure. I’m beyond grateful that I took him up on his offer. During my time at Grace I was able to help in adding service times, help launch a second campus, lead a dynamic preschool and children’s ministry, help a sweet friend launch a special needs ministry, head up rebrandings of our preschool and 1st-3rd grade ministries, launch a preteen ministry with an incredible buddy of mine, and head up events, with top-notch staff and volunteers, such as Grace’s Trunk or Treat where we’ve seen as many as 5,000 people in our community attend. But most importantly I was able to pray the prayer of salvation with many kids in Clarksville over the years, baptize them (or witness their parents baptize them) in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and watch leaders do amazing things each and every Sunday.
But even though I have a list of things I’m simply proud to have been a part of, I have a far greater list of failures. In the mix of all those very cool and challenging experiences listed above, I made more mistakes than I can count. Simply put, I made dumb decisions (repeatedly), reacted poorly to people in moments of stress, placed my ambition and passion for kids ministry before my family at times, allowed my insecurities to cloud my judgement, and on and on and on. In short, with all the cool opportunities I’ve been a part of, I, in some way or another, can guarantee I made a mess of things. But during each challenge and opportunity when my flesh and weakness got the best of me, God allowed me to reach the end of my rope and welcomed me to lean in on His strength. Not only that, but God surrounded me with some of the greatest mentors and leaders a guy could ever ask for. Over the years, Godly men helped me learn from my mistakes, challenged me in ways that deepened my relationship with Jesus, and encouraged me to keep moving the mission forward.
So, the church receiving me on June 1st will be getting a broken leader at best, but, because of my time at Grace and all of my friends who have invested in me, I now see that I’m at my best when I’m broken. In fact, it’s only through a broken state that I can see clearly the powerful, life-giving truths His Word provides, the peaceful intimacy found through prayer, the need for God’s wisdom in even the smallest decisions, that ministry can never trump my precious family, the joy in putting others first and being a servant-leader, and that my own personal agenda pales in comparison to simply caring for and investing in those I have the honor of leading.
So when the day approaches for us to head off on our new adventure back in good old Chattanooga, my family and I will leave with many of you forever in our hearts. Thank you for allowing me to lead the preschool and children’s ministry at Grace over the years, and thanks to Grace Community Church and so many others here in this awesome community for loving and caring for my greatest treasures, my wife and girls.