Been reflecting a bit as the year winds down. Here are 10 thoughts with no apparent connections between them.
1. I've grown increasingly convinced that Mental Health is the number one issue that the Church is going to have to take a strong stance on advocacy for in the 21st century. 1 in 5 are lonely. Anxiety is at an all time high. Depression continues to steal and destroy. The more I work with 20-somethings, the more I'm convinced a theology on mental health is needed. The church has to be a place where it is ok to not be ok.
2. The Cavs ended a drought in Cleveland that lasted my entire lifetime (plus an additional few decades!) I remember saying when we went down 3-1 that we would either come back in the most epic way to end the Cleveland sports curse, or we would get blown out by 30 points in game 5. Glad it was the former. I had a spot lined up for me to go to Cleveland to watch game 7. But I backed out. It was Father's Day and I took Chaia to studio 35 and we watched the game together. Made me miss my dad a ton. Looked like the Indians might do it too. But they were without a couple of key players. Hoping Encarnacion fits in and hits the ground swinging.
3. I discovered part of my calling is to awaken people to the desperate need for foster parents/adoptive parents. If I can influence 5, 10, 20, 100 households to extend offers for forever family to at risk kids,it will be worth it. It is hard. But most things that are right, usually are. If not us, who? If not now, when? I had a couple who I'd met one time in my life come up to me at a partner church and let me know they have jumped into the foster/adoption story because of a sermon I preached on adoption. Amazing! And to have 12 households at a next steps gathering and to have a number of those households submit applications for foster/adopt is one of the proudest moments for me as a pastor.
4. I may or may not have watched the entire series of The Walking Dead this year. I went from thinking it was lame, to thinking through my every move in new environments, just in case I had to defend myself against zombies. I know its a goofy show, with an unrealistic plot, but it really has a theme of Family on Mission.
5. Speaking of Family on Mission, that was the one rallying cry I prayed over C3 in 2016. We can only go forward as family. The problem I sense with this metaphor is that we have distorted the idea of family to be a nuclear family in a 3 bedroom home. Our allegiance to the nuclear family has sabotaged the kind of family Jesus gave his life for. He redefines family as those who are joining him on mission. But if we're honest, we don't like that redefinition.
6. Two kids are more than one kid. In every way. Time. Attention. Frustration. Sweat. Cussing. Laughter. Fun. Joy.
7. A thought I'm wrestling with. I lead a predominantly white church. We don't look like the city we live in. I now have a black son and I am struggling with the fact that we live in a pretty densely populated white community. I think pastors who advocate for racial reconciliation but live in segregated areas of the city with people who look and talk like them are hypocrites. If racial unity matters, then live like it matters. Shaina and I are wrestling with if God is calling us to move to a more diverse neighborhood.
8. A lot of amazing people died this year. Celebrities yes. But also my grandparents. My grandpa. The guy who baptized me, officiated part of my wedding and then stood as a groomsmen for the other part of my wedding. He ran the race and held on so that others could grab on. I want to do the same for others. Still feels surreal that my parents and grandparents are now all deceased. Not sure what emotions I have toward that. So thankful that the message of adoption is central to the Gospel and to my life or I may succumb to loneliness and isolation.
9. Best movie I saw this year? Collateral Beauty. I'm a sucker for Will Smith, the existential, and mental health...so bam. Trifecta.
10. The leadership lesson I'm taking away from 2016. GRACE and PACE. My identity is not tied to my ministry. And I will not work in such a way that I impede His work in and through me. My productivity must not hinder His. Simply find where God is at work in the world and join Him. And do it in rhythms that don't kill you, your family or your soul.
Have a happy New Year! May 2017 be the best one yet.