Past and Present

In the last few weeks, I have heard through e-mail from some great people who I haven’t heard from in years.  A few of them had stumbled on to this blog.  A couple of others found my e-mail address through other friends.


What made this particularly special is that all of them were from years spent working with a church in North Alabama (1982-1990) and teaching part-time at a small Bible college.  Each year, for seven years, I taught a class called "Christian Ministry".  As I think about those years, one of the great blessings was preparing for that class (which also humbled me as I realized how little I knew).  I was also learned from the interaction with some very fine people who took that class. 


It has been 16 years since that ministry came to a close.  I have not seen most of these former students for even longer than that.  Now, some 16 years later:

I continue to be convicted that what I am (and who I am) in Christ is more important than what I do.  How I am formed and shaped as a man or woman under Christ ought to be front and center.  There have been times when I have kept that focus better than other times.  But–my intention is to keep my relationship with Jesus front and center.

As a minister, one of the best things that I can do for a church is to be a healthy person.  I can’t begin to tell you how many churches I have seen which have been seriously damaged by immature people in leadership roles.  Far too often ministers (and other church leaders as well) carry emotional baggage from the the past into these churches.   It often surfaces in relational struggles, anger, or even immorality.


I’ve broadened my circles of friends.  I left Florence, Ala. almost sixteen years ago not having one single friend who was a minister/pastor/church leader of any church outside Churches of Christ.  That after having lived in that community for almost eight years.   I made no effort to form or cultivate such friendships.  Why?   Some of that was rooted in a deeply ingrained sectarianism.  That was also due to my not really being in the community and connected with the community where we lived.  Today, I am so grateful for such relationships.  I still have a lot to learn.


I live with less fear and less insecurity.  I no longer live with the paralyzing fear of not being like or accepted.  Of course it feels good to be liked.  But–it had become much too important to me.   What helped?  Realizing that my life is actually going to be very short.  Life really is not that long.  All of a sudden your children are grown and you have some gray hair!  Also, I have come to believe even more strongly that my identity (and sense of self-worth) is found in who I am in Jesus.  Finally, I was helped by two different Christian counselors.  (Experiencing some depression was the motivation for seeing someone).  I saw one person for a while when we lived in Kansas City, Mo.  When we moved to Waco, I saw another counselor for a short time.  These people were safe and very helpful.


Hmmm. Maybe more of this later.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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10 thoughts on “Past and Present

  1. Jim,
    I think you are still teaching “Christian Ministry” almost every day – just in a different format. 🙂 As someone still relatively new to being a pastor, I appreciate your honesty and heart. You’ve helped me more times than I can remember through your words, thoughts, attitude. Thanks, and don’t stop. 🙂

  2. I am happy to say I was one of those students at that “small” college. I learned a great deal that was of abiding worth at your feet. The desires you (and Broyles) cultivated have continued to bear fruit in my life and ministry.

    I am equally glad, and blessed, to have stumbled on your blog.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face shine upon you.

    Bobby Valentine

  3. Jim: It’s that process called maturity. And just to think of what God has in store for us in this area 16 years from now! We’ll look back and (if we have any memory left!) wonder how we could have missed such important things in life when we thought we’d made such progress.

    Thanks for your openness in sharing your life.

  4. You do a great job of teaching Christian ministry still. Even 10 years ago when I got to play as a church secretary for you, I didn’t realize that you were teaching me even more than that.

    I also have to say how much I respect your role in the greater community here in Waco, beyond the CoC. Keep it up!

  5. Dan, Thanks for such an encouraging note. I appreciate your words. I can appreciate what you are dealing with in being relatively new. I continue to have a lot to learn as well

  6. Jim: I am glad to say I was one of those students, too many years ago. Surely, one of the highlights of my education process. Pulled down and read a little of “My First Parish” the other day. I didn’t realize how fresh those words still are – and yours, as well