Newlyweds at Westminster Presbyterian, Atlanta on June 27, 1987
My bride Elizabeth and I celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary today.
I am deeply grateful for her. She is my best friend, a most excellent mother to our children and a godly woman who points me and many to Jesus through her music, teaching, serving and example.
Much has changed in this short time and will continue to change. Children, weddings, gospel maturity, pain, poverty, wealth, homes, churches planted, new vocations, languages, technologies and new friends. Amazing how the events of these last two weeks underscore how the world changes quickly and slowly at the same time. But one thing has only increased.
I want her more than ever before.
Being married to Elizabeth is an increasingly beautiful foreshadowing of The Wedding of Eternity for which Christ is preparing His Bride (Revelation 19:6-9). Truth and Grace prepare the Bride of Christ for Final Judgment that ushers in the New Heavens and the New Earth where His people are WITH Him. This is the greatest good. We live in such gratitude that He would chose us for each other and for Himself. It is so good it is hard to imagine. That He would grant us a joy for which we were made, redeemed and celebrate daily? It is a Joy that we could never earn. Intimacy and love that proves His worth and glory. Being married to you Elizabeth as followers of Jesus is an honor. Anticipating eternity.
Happy Anniversary my love. Living with you is like heaven on earth.
I used to want to be more famous. I didn’t say it that way, but that is what I wanted. Honestly, I still want it, but less so. Maybe I’m getting wiser. I’m certainly older. And honestly, I’m afraid. For myself and the men, women and their families who lead churches.
Is this the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom? These days I coach several planters and pastors. I’m involved with many church planting networks where we talk about and expect churches to grow. And always to get as big as they possibly can. And we are always sad and devastated when someone takes a fall.
I’m beginning to wonder if wanting to be more famous, have a bigger reach or growing our numbers is a good expectation. Or if we should be a little more suspicious of celebrity. Even small-time celebrity I (still) want.
This may be an emperor’s new clothes set of questions, but I’m going to ask anyway:
- As a planter or pastor, is getting more people to follow you better? Is more influence or power, money, buildings necessarily healthy?
- Should we planters and pastors produce media content (i.e. blogs, podcasts, tweets, posts, videos, books) or focus mostly on sermons, prayer, disciplemaking and shepherding? (Yeah, that is a leading question and this is a blog. Forgive my mixed signals. I can see my agenda is showing.)
- Is the pursuit of becoming a larger church with big followings a biblical or wise way for God’s Kingdom to expand? Or are there unseen, inherent risks to those who lead them?
- Should ‘successful’ planters and pastors speak at conferences, author books that require them to travel to speak at more conferences and be away from their family and flock?
- Should we ask some hard questions about our role in attending, promoting or supporting conferences that promote celebrity?
And more importantly, what should we learn by how Jesus handled celebrity?
Planting and pastoring a church is already a dangerous calling. I hear far too often of burnout, moral failures, depression, family struggles and even suicide among pastors. That is not the way it is supposed to be!
Are we, in part, hurting ourselves? Are we playing into a scheme of our enemy? Maybe we should examine Scripture and talk about a better way.
Perhaps we should aim lower.
Lord, have mercy.