Monday, June 25, 2007

Endings Beginning

As my time at Grace Family is coming closer to the end, I am starting to have conversations with people about "lasts." Saying goodbye always stinks. It means that you will be less available, farther away, moving on, and that relationships that you have grown accustomed to will transform into "checking in" instead of "living life." But one cool thing about the process of saying goodbye, is that you go out of your way to spend time with friends, and make sure that you tell them how much they mean to you, and how they have impacted your life. Last week, Anne and I had the privilege of going to dinner with two couples that have not only been partners in ministry, but true friends. As we were sitting together, we commented about why we hadn't gone out more often when we had the chance. (Although, the sheer will demonstrated by all the parties involved just to carve out the time to go out when we knew it was the only time we had, gave us our answer.) Then, last night the Blend Worship band that Anne and I lead had a "going away" get together for us. The group had incredibly kind words for Anne and me, and even presented us with the "golden blender award" for our leadership. I also took the opportunity to share with each of them how important they have been in my life, and how proud I am of them. This may sound odd, but it reminded me of about a month ago when I was watching a show on the discovery channel. A car designer named Chip Foose was designing and building a car for the Detroit auto show, to be judged for an award called the Ridler which he ended up winning. (click here to read about it.) I was really impressed with him as a leader. He had assembled a team to build his design, who were all expert craftsmen. They had dedicated this part of their lives to going above and beyond all expectations, to create a car that was truly one of a kind. When Chip was given the award, his acceptance speech was filled with accolades for the people on his team who had worked so hard, and you could tell that he really cared about them. But even more than that, they cared about him. I don't think it's normal to get emotional when watching a car show on the discovery channel, but that really affected me. I told Anne, "I want to be a leader like Chip Foose." I have always lived with the belief that leadership is more than just telling people what to do. To me, it is helping people see themselves the way God sees them, filled with potential and gifted to do something significant. Last night, I felt a little like Chip Foose. I was filled with excitement for them because I know they will continue to grow in both their spiritual walk and musicianship. I was humbled by one musician who shared that I had impacted him and his family's life "far beyond the music." Statements like that are the reason I became a pastor in the first place. Even though this process of endings beginning is agonizing, I am grateful to be having these conversations, and grateful that God has given me such rich and valuable relationships that are not ending, but still beginning.

5 comments:

Dad said...

Dear Sonshine,

Great "stuff!" Your words take me back to some of my "endings." Although the relationships become long-distance, they do continue. Larry Hester, I should say, "Dr. Larry Hester," the head of pastoral studies at Southwestern University was a teenager in our first pastorate. I invested myself in him taking him with me on visitation, teaching him trombone, etc. We still email on a regular basis and he is coming to Florida and will preach for me on Sunday, July 22nd. Most of those who were are in leadership at that church in Evansville are now old or already gone on to glory, but my investment in that teenager has reaped great dividends. After I left the district office, Larry put together a meeting in Evansville as a surprise for us. We thought we were only stopping by to visit his mother, but when I got to town and called him he said, "Mom didn't feel up to cooking dinner so we are meeting at a cafeteria." When we arrived we were greeted by about 25 people whom we had pastored over 35 years before.

The investment you have made in these lives will be lasting. However, it does take effort and sometimes expense to maintain long-distance relationships. It is much easier today with blogs, email, and video phones than it ever has been. This is truly the age of information and communication.

I know that you will do the same in Texas as you have done in other places you have ministered.

Side note: If you have not read John Ashcroft's book "Never Again," you must.

Love ya, Dad

Steph said...

Wow, you actually brought a tear to my eye. I'm sad for you leaving people behind and excited for you starting a whole new chapter in your lives. It's going to be a journey. Good luck Thursday and Friday with the great house hunt. Hope all goes well and you get that big fat house you've always dreamed of. Of course, with a tiny payment!

Roy said...

amen my friend...amen

joe_fulford said...

Hey Mark and Anne:

This is Joe, and I just want to say what a pleasure it has been to work for you both each and every Sunday.. One of my favorite things I look forward to is Sundays and being your stage manager-its going to feel strange not taking your sax case to the back office.
But what I will miss the most is that wonderful voice every Sunday from you Anne.. God has really bless you with a wonderful gift, and I hope and pray those people in Texas will see that gift and use it for God.
Your friendships has meant the world to me, and I know that will continue. Lets keep in touch. After all, you need to know everything that goes on in the world of fantasy football here..

Mark Lunsford said...

Thanks for the kind words, Joe. We'll definitely keep in touch!