One of Jimmy Buffett’s most memorable songs is “A Pirate Looks at Forty.” It is a song about a man who turns 40 and looks back on his years so far. He admits that he longs to have been a pirate but is “two hundred years too late”. It is a song filed with nostalgia but also with what Thoreau so famously called “quiet desperation.”
Today I turn 40 and unlike the subject of Buffett’s song, I do not have to regret being born in the wrong century to practice my calling. This year I also celebrate 10 years of being in vocational ministry. I am now living daily my dream job as a pastor of a church, so I thought I would take this opportunity to write some thoughts on these first 40 years.
I’m a Christian. That means that I believe that the world has gone wonky and is broken. The only thing to put order back to the mess of our lives is to follow after Jesus. I have tried a few times over the years to go my own way and it has, without fail, ended in disaster. The closer I follow the footsteps of Jesus the greater my sense of purpose and fulfillment grows.
I am a family man. I grew up in a loving household with a father, mother, and younger sister. They have shaped me into the husband and father I am today. Outside of the Lord there is no one who knows my flaws, weaknesses, and shortcomings more than my wife, and yet no one loves me more! We’ve been married for almost 13 years and the best is still to come. We have been blessed with three children that humble me and allow me to pass on the love and knowledge that has been poured into my life. They are each unique yet all are for sure “my kids!”
I am a pastor. That means my “job” everyday is to point people to the God I love. I get to stand up in front of people at least once a week and proclaim the goodness of the Lord. I celebrate when people have the highs of their life, and I sit with them when the lows come. In the service of the Lord I have preached funerals, lead disaster relief efforts after a tornado, stayed up way too late entertaining youth, read stories to children, listened to the tales of the homeless, and helped people turn broken lives into lives filled with grace, beauty, and love.
Most of my job is people. That is a good thing because I am an extreme social extrovert. The Lord uses our weakness as strengths in His Kingdom. I hate being alone so he placed me in a job that requires me to be with people all the time. I love people! Getting to know them and their lives is a blessing. Most people just want their story to be told and I am happy to listen. I have found that people love to laugh. I have learned that most people are nice and some people are just mean, but as a wise woman once said, you just got to “Shake it Off”
I have been given a booming voice that shakes walls. I can have few secrets with the inability to whisper. I love being a pastor and giving people hope in a very confusing world. The prayer for my life has become, “Lord, you have made me loud. Now please give me something worth saying.”
This is a pastor looking back at 40. There is so much work still to be done. I ask for many more years of being a pastor, husband, and father. May I continue to share the grace, hope, and love that has been shown to me over the last 4 decades!