Thursday, March 10, 2016



  Recently I saw that sometimes in interviews people ask applicants to tell what they think are their greatest moments of success.  That spurred my thinking so I want to try to name a dozen or so in my life, but I would hesitate to call them “accomplishments.”

1.     Realizing that grace is more of a reality than luck and that even the bad things were, and can be, turned around for good in my life.  This has saved me from a lot of bitterness, to which I am often tempted, but thankfully haven’t stayed there long.
2.    Surviving fatherlessness and poverty and being found by the family of God.
3.    Having an amazing, self-sacrificing and encouraging mother.
4.    Being loved by, and loving, African Americans among whom I grew up, and ministered with, to, and by.  Gaining a depth of rich cultural experience through a kindness and welcome that I never deserved or earned except simply through friendship.
5.    Being loved by loyal, delightful, and gifted friends in many places, and for many years, even though doing in my own assessment a poor job of loving them back.
6.    Gaining a really sound education in a very good secondary school, wonderful college and theological seminary, which foundation and preparation has served me well and spurred me to keep on learning.
7.    Looking back in astonishment to realize that I found, in my own tough and poor neighborhood, a beautiful, gifted, and loving wife who has borne, adopted, and raised our children, made our home, and been a tenacious teammate with me in our church and ministry life.  Laughing, singing, and thinking with her, added to all the other pleasures of marriage, revive me constantly.
8.    Being mentored by faithful and skilled men and women of God who spoke encouragement and challenge into my life, believed in me, and modeled life.
9.    Having sinful weakness, humiliating spiritual failure, actual human enemies who opposed me and slandered me, and drove me to repentance, the delivering cross of Christ, and the sheltering and protecting hand of God.
10.Being a pastor whose congregation endured his administrative ineptness, jerky and impetuous kind of visionary leadership, and allowed him to preach, and preach, and get better at preaching, and made him feel like they enjoyed hearing him.
11.Being surrounded by wonderful musicians that made worship a foretaste of heaven and Sunday mornings to be anticipated.
12.Being a soldier and a Chaplain, enduring training, deployments, and war. Loving soldiers, feeling humble and very proud that I was able to serve them and my country, while also feeling the pride of my family and friends for that service.

For all this, and more, I bless God and say that if there was any success in it, then it was all by grace.


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