One Year Later ~ Reflections on My First Year Here…

On Sunday I preached on my favorite verse in the bible. It’s a very simple verse that says this, “I’m doing a great work, I can’t come down” (Neh. 6:3). I love this verse. I love the focus, and most of all, I love the passionate pursuit of something. Nehemiah refuses to be distracted by interesting opportunities, cool invitations, or anything else other than God’s calling on his life. He doesn’t let good things get in the way of God’s best for him. Instead, he refuses to give up on the great work he has been given.

The reason I love this verse is because it reminds me that a great work is going on here at Plattsville. This church is a wonderful place. There is something special here. I feel like it’s the best-kept secret in the township. And God has been doing great things here. People are connecting with God in new ways, they are finding hope, they are finding life, and most of all, they are finding Jesus. So I get the amazing pleasure of each day coming into work knowing that I’m a part of a great work and I don’t want to come down and do anything else. This is a huge blessing, to be part of something you know you don’t want to miss. And I never want to miss a Sunday here, a week here, or ministry here because God is doing great things.

Sunday was actually my yearlong anniversary here. And this is the most beautiful thing, and means more to me probably than most people realize. Because my life-long dream and calling has been to be a lead pastor. I have always hoped, dreamed, and prayed that I might get the honor and privilege to serve in this role somewhere. And what you may or may not realize is that you made my dreams come true. You gave me the chance to partner in a great work, in my calling, in my passion that I don’t ever want to give up.

So that’s why yesterday was so special for me. Because yesterday was the completion and start of a dream and calling that I’ve had for years. And while I know I will have many years of ministry ahead, you only get to do your first year once. In the future I’ll have other firsts but I won’t ever have this one again – my first year as a lead pastor. And that is why for me yesterday was so special because this church, this family, this people will always be my first church. You will always be the people and place that accepted me in a new role, that trusted me, and that believed in me. The people that let me stumble, succeed, and seek God together. The people that encouraged, supported, and believed that God was doing something in our midst together. And you might not remember this, but when I preached for the call here I said, God has more in store for you that is beyond anything you ever could have hoped for, dreamed of, or even imagined (Eph. 3:20). But what is truly beautiful is that is how my first year has been: it’s been better than I could have hoped for, it’s more than I dreamed of, and beyond anything I could have imagined. And that’s because of you.

So I’m thankful because you can only have your first year as a lead pastor once, and I can’t think of how it could have been a better one. No matter what the future holds, I know I will always look back on this year and feel nothing but deep gratitude, appreciation, and gratefulness to both you and God.

So today I have lots to be thankful for. I’m thankful for the best first year I could have hoped for. I’m thankful for a calling and a great work to join God in. And most of all, I’m thankful to you Plattsville church, because this is now our home. There is lots before us, lots of great work to still do, because we’re just getting started. But today, as I look back, I can’t forget that there is so much to be thankful for…and mostly it’s you…