I just recently turned 40. The whole year leading up to this birthday, I have been slightly bothered by it. Now that it has come, I am actually okay with it. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I think because of my recent bout with COVID these matters of thanksgiving are shining a little brighter to me than they did before.
One of the ways I am looking at 40 is by reflecting on what things were like when I turned 30. Here are a few.
- When I was 30, Katrina and I only had two small babies. Now we have five children.
- When I was 30, I technically didn't have a home. We were traveling around the U.S. visiting churches looking for partners to help us start a church in Roseville, CA. (We did have a house that we stayed in that someone had offered us rent free; however, we were not "home" very often.)
- When I was 30, I was just entering the role of lead pastor. Prior to that, I only had a short stint as an assistant pastor.
- When I was 30, God's church seemed a lot simpler and straight forward to me than it does now. Things are much, much harder now.
- When I was 30, I had not begun the journey of addressing the hurt and trauma that was in my life. I didn't even acknowledge it then. Today, I am thankful to have a much fuller and growing understanding.
- When I was 30, I had a good marriage. Today I have a great marriage!
- When I was 30, I was a so-so, distracted Dad. Today, I feel much better about how I am filling the Dad role, and, I am aware and active on how to be a better Dad. When I was 30, I neglected my kids often. Today, I am often working towards properly engaging them.
- When I was 30, It felt like adult life was still beginning whether my career as a pastor or parenting. Most things still felt like they were in the beginning stages. Today, the beginning stages of my adult life feel like they have faded long ago into the past. Not that I am that old, but, I am old enough to feel like the new is a part of my established past. Now, I am thinking about the end of things. Not that the end is that close, but I am far enough in to think about the kids leaving home, what it will mean to be a pastor in my 50s and 60s, how to make sure my finances are prepared for retirement, and the list goes on.
Next, I want to share some of the things that are on my mind as I begin my 40s:
- I want grow and to do a better job in my Dad role. I want to instill in my children a godly Christian character that knows how to have fun and enjoy this life but that is also focused a sacrificially serving God. And, I hope to accomplish this by cultivating a vibrant relationship with each of my children.
- Connected to the first one, I want to make sure I impact the next generation. I want to avoid a generation gap - if possible. By the time I end my 40s, I want to know almost all the youth of my small town. I've got a good start, and I want to see it through over the next 10 years.
- Loosely connected to the first two, I want to finish my Master of Divinity so that I have the academic credentials to invest in the next generation of church leaders.
- I want to stay engaged in pastoral ministry. I don't want to burn out and walk away from it (that temptation is a reality for many even most pastors). Pastoral ministry is just hard. Insanely hard. When I was 30, I never could have conceived of what I would face even in the next 10 years. I suspect this trend will continue on into my 40s. And, I want to stay in the harness by God's grace and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- This next point should have been first, but I will be transparent and keep this list in the order it occurred to me. I want to have a growing relationship with God and not a fading one. It is really easy to become distracted and selfish. I hope over the next 10 years, my relationship with God with net growth - even net strong growth.
- Over the next 10 years, I hope to begin to reap the benefit of studying a broad variety of topics. I have been reading widely and extensively the last few years, and I hope to reach the point in the next 10 years where I can begin to put this to use for the benefit of others.
Well, that's all folks! If you made it this far, I'm impressed!