Updated: Jul 2
Sitting here in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, a small tourist town where my wife and I occasionally get away. Our life has been quite privileged given the early days of our parents. They worked hard in front of us, stayed together through hard times and we owe them much for the wisdom deposited into our lives.
Both of us were “well-churched”, myself Pentecostal, my wife Missouri Synod Lutheran; odd that we would hitch up as a couple, now both comfortable as Evangelical Presbyterians.
We first met in the cafeteria of a junior high, not as students but as young teachers. By that time, I had already struggled through a divorce after only two years of marriage, which had somewhat expelled any vestiges of faith, while she had held to her parents’ belief system, though with little more impact by her own admission than an intellectual experience with the catechism. In fact I used to banter with her in the teacher’s lounge, "the only difference in the two of us is that you waste your Sundays. Later, she would take me to her church for my first visit since around seventeen years of age.
After a year or so we began to date, married, bought a home and ended up as leaders in a small church. After our daughter was born and two teacher salaries were seen as insufficient for our mutual vision as leaders, I went back to college on weekends for a Masters.
Still unsure of my future, though by then overly engaged as a part-time associate pastor, a statewide men’s director, science teacher, dad and grad student, I found direction through an early mentor and focused on Community Education. Along with that a secondary focus on resource development, a study of funding strategies, foundations, 501c3’s etc.
Yes. I was a busy boy and fortunate not to lose my family!
My degree gave me favor at the administrative level in the school system where I would spend the next five years focused on community relations, resource development and adult education extension programs.
Thinking my calling might have morphed away from ministry and toward becoming a public school superintendent, I went back for a post graduate Ed.S. (Education Specialist) degree, thinking I would pick up a few more courses after becoming a superintendent, write a a thesis, thus picking up my Doctorate.
I had mastered several early software programs available to our small school system, an Apple Computer test site. Each year a well produced annual report was expected, which enhanced my writing skills as well as 8 mm camera photography proficiency (at least it felt that way to me after a couple awrds at the state level).
However, little did I know this was simply a primer for skills necessary as an executive pastor and the build out of a rapidly growing church campus and day school.
Once I “saw the light”, we sold the new home we had personally constructed for purposes of retirement, all so that we could answer the call to ministry, one first heard as a nine year old. This would lead to various community leadership opportunities back in my hometown, eventually a couple terms on a municipal planning board, which was unknowingly preparing me for a mayoral role some years later.
Why all this mental back tracking as I sit on my front porch, light years away from the days when we had to think twice about going out to eat if we were ever going to achieve our mutual goal of living debt free? Our life journey matters, if our spiritual impact is to be fully unpacked, that Sovereign “piece” of God assigned never to another, that piece “that passes understanding.”
So from that childhood calling to this fourth generation Pentecostal, then buffered and stabilized by a now charismatic Presbyterian, both with a background in education, myself understanding resource development, with deep community roots having become an entrepreneur of necessity once I left my role as executive pastor to pray over my hometown…can you feel me?
Here I set more prosperous than my vocational journey should have allowed in a country quite chaotic and detached from any sound spiritual moorings, though a minority still profess Christianity and see it as the core reason for our founding fathers seeking to found a more perfect union, a truly democratic republic. I now question that reality.
So, what must I do in this moment with a network around me of churchmen, community leaders, politicians, Venture capitalists, etc.?
Lead, think,write and speak out, with the last thing on my mind being retirement.
Questions that remain:
How do I communicate with the other four generations now alive?
How to sustain a spiritual pedagogy, best learned through early childhood, one's most fertile ground?
How should we Boomers respond in a moment when childhood psychology and even gender physiology is being challenged and, how do we do that in love, given that so much has been lost on our watch?
How does one who was raised in a church culture focused on foreign missions, which has afforded such a major global wealth gap given this once compassionate capitalistic society called America, help shift focus toward her local communities where all national and eventually global leadership is nurtured?
Now you see my challenge given the preparation afforded by my professional trajectory.