By the title of this blog post…
You might be expecting me to share about a dinner with a high-profile leader… or a meal with someone who offered us an unbelievable position… or maybe even my take on Jesus and his Last Supper with the Disciples.
Instead… this post is about the topic of processing… and the tools God often uses to shape our lives and direction. For Robin (my wife) and I… it happened over dinner one night.
It was a dinner we had with other ministry couples who were also attending a Pastor’s Couples Retreat.
As we ate, I (Terry) realized that we were youngest in the cross-section of ages at the table. I was in my early thirties and Robin in her late twenties. The spread was balanced; us, one couple in their 40s… one in their 50s… and one in the late 60s.
Like I can sometimes do… I threw a question out onto the table to spice up the conversation. My question went something like this:
“Okay… I can see that we are the youngest here. So how about some advice! If you were going to start all over again, and your were our ages, what would you do differently related to pastoral ministry?”
There was an awkward silence.
I recall that the couple in their 40s were first to speak. They talked about budgeting their time and too many nights out. They talked about how demanding ministry was and how they would have managed the calendar better.
The couple in their 50s followed with advice about developing more leaders. The load gets heavy and they realized they needed more people who owned the vision. They also talked about the hurt that had come from those they trusted the most who were in their church.
Somewhere along the way, I noticed that the older couple were quietly listening. They were nodding and empathizing, but were offering little comment. Finally, with a little prompting, he spoke up.
As the husband spoke, I noticed that tears began to fill the eyes of his wife. His few words pierced Robin’s and my heart forever!
“All I know,” he said, “is that people whom I have pastored still call me and seek my advice. People who now live all over the world and who have been in our churches down through the years! But… when my kids come home, they want to spend time and talk with their Mom.
“I wished I would have spent more time investing into my relationship with my children. I know that I was too busy for them, and I pushed them aside in route to do something great for God!”
Boom! Silence hit the table. We all just sat there, and stared down at our plates.
Robin and I both felt sadden, but I also felt that uncomfortable feeling that a spear had just pierced my heart. There was nothing more that anyone wanted to say. We just politely excused ourselves and left without further comment.
Dinner that night shaped our lives.
Robin and I vowed to value and put a priority on our family, and to do all we could to not make our kids a casualty of our ministry. We had to make stands along the way, but those choices can be traced back to that destiny marker.
On that night I committed to be there for our kids. I have had my struggles, but to this day this remains one of my (and ours) top commitments, even now as our grand kids have come into our lives.
That meal was a destiny marker.
Defining moments are like this; they are turning points in our development. They serve to unfold values and reveal that which is important. They point to issues of destiny and contribution to others. One of the gifts Robin and I have tried to give to others is that those of us in ministry can still have a believable, authentic families.
Each of us have destiny marker moments.
Who are the people? What are the events? And how have your past experiences played their part in shaping you and what’s most important. Destiny Markers are tools in the hands of a shaping God.
Might be a good topic to explore over dinner some time.
Also… for more, check out the our on-line coaching segment on TURNING POINTS at Leader Breakthru University.
© Terry Walling 2013