Why “The Rookie Pastor”?

Well, the last thing I think the world needs is another blogger. I don’t even like “open letters.” If done well they can be useful, but more often than not they come off self-righteous and condescending. I started this blog because I thought my church, family, and friends might benefit from some of my writing. I also want to improve my writing. I like the rookie bit because that is what I feel like. All the time.

When I started seminary in 2006 I met a student who had traveled all the way from London. I asked him why he came across the Atlantic to Orlando. He told me that after reading the 400+ page volume The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame he just had to come. He returned my question and I sheepishly told him I had read Desiring God and heard some sermons by John Piper. I was way out of my league. Another time I approached a few first-year students talking with our Greek professor. I wanted to be a part of the conversation so I cautiously entered the circle. After a few minutes I arrived at two conclusions. First, I was sure they were speaking English. Second, I had no idea what they were talking about. I backed away slowly and waited for the crayons and coloring books to be brought out. A rookie moment.

Another thing about seminary is you have to be a reader. You need to be able to talk about “your library.” The problem was I didn’t have one. My bookshelf consisted mainly of C.S. Lewis and the Left Behind series. But that library started to grow in seminary and now I have a personal library of a thousand books. I am considered by people to be “a reader.” Pretty impressive. I haven’t read them all. I joke that I buy them used so people will think I have read them. Eventually I collected and read enough books and learned the theological lingo so now I can hang on to the conversation. I might even contribute!

It took me six years and three campuses to finish seminary. The registrar at the third campus warned me not to transfer again. Or else. Each time I arrived at a campus I felt like a rookie. No contacts, no friends , no connections. I also got married and had three children along the way. More rookie moments: first-time husband, first-time father, all the while trying to figure out how to honor Christ by his grace despite all my weakness and sins. I had my first ministry job in a small town church. There I experienced my first real joys and sorrows in ministry. It was there God confronted me with the need for loving hurting people and hurting churches.

And here I am in my seventh year at my first church. I lead a committee in our presbytery. I have made so many mistakes in the pulpit, at funerals, in relationships with members. Still feel like a rookie. I now have five kids. My wife and I are in our thirteenth year of marriage. Still feel like a rookie. Recently, someone told me in a (sort-of) complimentary way, “You have accomplished more than you should have been able to given where you are.” That may be true. That might be the writing on my gravestone: Accomplished more than he should have. I don’t have the connections. I didn’t intern at a big church. I wasn’t top in my class at the seminary. I haven’t written any books. I don’t know the ins and outs of Presbyterian polity. I’m a novice at philosophy. Sound like a rookie yet?

But here I am. Not in defiance of anyone. I have had wonderful family, friends, and mentors who I learn from and continue to learn from to this day. Rather here I am by the grace of God. He has brought me here and he continues to lead me through this life. I don’t know when or if I will start feeling like an experienced veteran, but I am not worried about it. I do feel more confident now than in the past. Part of it is demonstrating competence. Part of it is learning to trust Christ more and myself less. What I am trying to do now is to grow in my knowledge, ability, and personal holiness to be the best husband, father, and pastor I can be. And the only way I can do it is by the grace and power of God one step at a time. Like a rookie.

How about you? You can contact me here. Thanks for reading!

(BTW the featured image is a stock photo. I don’t have any pictures of that one year I played T-ball.)