Word of the Week

The Difficulty of Going Back

So much of a person's professional life, whatever career you have chosen, is to make connections where you find yourself and keep them over time. Keeping relationships strong that can be mutually beneficial over time to both you and the other person(s) for getting new projects starting and expanding your skills. For me, especially as a pastor where so much of my job is helping to connect myself and others with resources, I know I need to be faithful to do this even when life gets busy. My personal growth and that of my church depends on it.

However, it seems that no matter how hard I try to do this, it is getting harder and harder to do.

It seems appropriate here to say that "I must be getting old." But then, I know there are those out there who would laugh at me upon reading this statement.

Every time I read the latest edition of my college's alumni magazine, one of my favorite professors is retiring or moving on (It might not surprise you that I had close relationships with the faculty and staff). "Why would I want to go back to homecoming?" I wonder. I might not recognize the place anymore.

Every time I hear updates from my seminary, it seems that another one of my favorite people is leaving. And, these are folks that I had maintained relationships with and had served alongside since finishing school doing various projects. Read about the latest gem leaving Duke Divinity here. As much as I want to be an encouragement to those coming after me in ministry at Duke, "Who would I connect with if I went back?" I wonder. I might not have anyone who knows me (and it has only been 3 1/2 years!).

And, just this week, I sent out an email to my dearest of friends from seminary asking who might want to attend a continuing education conference with me. It seems that all of us have gone into each our own fields of specialization- some to children's ministry, another to church planning, two more to youth ministry, another to spiritual formation and me into the solo pastor world. It seems that we don't have any reason to get together at a common meeting anymore. This is sad and caused me to pause.  (Though I hope we gather again next year for our yearly beach retreat).

The lesson I'm learning in all of this, is that connection making at any stage you are in is very important. We always need to be about the business of making new friends, seeking new avenues of finding people with shared interest, and always open to what life's journey might bring us.

You and I may not be able to lend on our connections of the past forever due to death, life situation changes from our perspective and others too, and a multitude of other reasons.

Because of this, now's the time to seize the day and keep an open heart to what might be in the future.

A wise friend once told me, "If you are are going to be a leader, don't worry so much as what happened in the past, it's difficulties, its challenges, set your vision on the future, and there you will find hope for all the new beginnings your heart longs for."

And, this is something I'm going to try today . . .