What I Used to Be

As I’m sure is a common tradition for many church preschools, Nathan’s school has chapel time throughout the week. One of the traditions is a birthday blessing. All children who had a birthday during the previous month are asked to come to the altar railing, kneel and receive a birthday blessing. The minister kneels with each child and asks their name and how old they are. She announces the name and age to the entire group and prays for them.

We had already prayed for Nathan and another student in his class. The classmate turned four today (Nathan was five on Saturday). After our newly crowned four-year-old classmate was a young boy who just celebrated his 3rd birthday. So, the leader announces his name, and says, “He is three.” Nathan’s classmate also made an announcement: Hey, I used to be three, too!

It’s the kind of feeling I get when I look back at previous churches, events or other ministry settings. Obviously, well okay hopefully, I am a different person now than what I was then. That is, there are experiences that have shaped me and my understanding, there are new ideas I’ve wrestled with and despite how hard you might try adding years to your life does influence you. Most likely these things lead us into being new creations—all of this seemingly happening in the flash of an eye.

No matter where we find ourselves in our spiritual journey today we must be mindful of where we have been. Think about what God has already shown us, taught us and where we have already been lead to or away from. Part of the joy in that journey is when we find others treading the same paths. That’s where the church has been most influential to me—when its members share their journeys. Now that I find myself having more “I used to be” moments I am careful, I hope, to support and encourage those just turning three. The attitude I hope to have is one that says, “Sure, I can share with you things I’ve learned, but please tell me what you are finding out.”

Pastoral ministry provides many opportunities to see many of God’s people learning and growing in their spirituality. That is the most exciting part of ministry for me. It’s watching God at work; what can be more rewarding?

So, remember where you’ve been and thank God for where you’re going. Stay blessed…john

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