“Are you excited?” That is a question I have heard a lot this week, perhaps a bit more with each day.
I am excited, and that sense is growing, but is also tempered by what is, I hope, a realistic sense of what lies ahead.
Today is Wednesday and by the end of the work day next Wednesday I will be “retired” from my job at Mayo Clinic, the job I have had for 27 years. That is a significant period of time to work in the same place and I have met many good people, both employees and patients, over the course of those years. But like all things do, my time at Mayo is coming to an end. The day is rapidly approaching where the faces, the routines, which are so familiar, will change. In a sense they will change dramatically. Next week I will go to work on Wednesday morning, much as I have since 1986, and when I return home in the evening it will be with the knowledge that I won’t be returning to work there again. That moment on Wednesday afternoon will be the end of one thing and another step to the next significant thing.
I am not retiring in the traditional sense, the one where every day is Saturday. I am leaving Mayo as retired by virtue of being of an age and years of employment that meet the retirement criteria. My retirement from Mayo is because I have been called into another vocation, to serve as the pastor of the Jicarilla Apache Reformed Church.
Leaving a place and vocation that I know well for a place and vocation that are new to me will be a pretty big change. There is going to be a lot of adjustment. There will be a steep learning curve. And my family will be along for the ride.
I am excited about the moving into pastoral ministry for what I anticipate to be the last phase of my working career. I am excited to move into a new community, to meet new people and to live in what for me is a new part of the country. I am excited to be doing this with Robin and our youngest daughter. And I am glad that they are excited about these changes too.
But I also have a sense of realism of the task that lies ahead. Like many other vocations, including the vocation of being a parent, there are all manner of things that can happen in pastoral ministry that can’t really be prepared for but instead have to be experienced. I can learn and study and think about this and that, but I won’t really understand many situations fully until after they have happened and I have had a chance to think back on them and the way I handled them.
And I know that being a pastor is a big responsibility, not just in the sense of the things to be done among the congregation and community, but particularly in spiritual responsibility. Among the wisdom Paul gives to Timothy about his vocation are these words:
“By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”
We are off from Rochester to Dulce because we, and most particularly me, have been called there by God to serve among His people. It will be big changes in many ways. Some parts may come easily and others certainly won’t. But we serve a big God, a God who is always good, a God who is always faithful, and most importantly, a God who reveals Himself personally through His Son, Christ Jesus.
We go in faith to serve this God, to His glory, now and forever.
Yeah, I am excited!
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.