As autumn sets in and this decade nears its end, I am amazed by the extent to which people and circumstances can evolve across 10 years.
This is the end of September 2009. Ten years ago I was well into my final year of graduate school at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., with a return to Florida on the near horizon. We were prayerful about starting a family. I was immersed in a world of courses involving ministry leadership, public speaking and counseling–among others–and had been carefully documenting all of my graduate reading into an A-Z subject list for easy retrieval. The summer of 1999 had involved an intensive internship as a hospital chaplain, followed by a few days in the mountains to read Thomas Merton and Ken Gire and catch my breath.
Since then, I’ve completed school; become a father not once but twice while saying goodbye to my own father; become ordained as a deacon in full connection by The United Methodist Church; and moved from a pastoral leadership role to business leadership development roles in the corporate sphere. During these past 10 years I’ve also evolved in my writing from doing mostly articles and marketing copy to a stronger focus on books and blogging. Ten years ago I was still several years away from establishing any sort of Internet presence, and today I’m all about leveraging social media to communicate with others and create awareness. And the context of my family’s life has shifted from Kentucky to Florida and now to Tennessee, which certainly feels like home for the next decade and perhaps many more after that.
Throughout this 10-year journey of many changes that have built upon one another and expanded my thinking across numerous disciplines, there certainly have been joys and struggles. Each has taught me something, and some lessons I have had to repeat. I find myself today, as compared with 10 years ago, much less in a “box” and harder to categorize. I have hundreds of new friends or associates whom I did not know 10 years ago, and thankfully have been able to stay somewhat connected–especially through social media–with those I knew well during the 1990s. There are dozens and dozens of books I’ve read this decade that were not on my radar in 1999, and these certainly have enhanced how I look at vocation, spiritual growth, relationships and certainly myself.
The sustainable joy is in the growing, the learning, the trial and error. I would not be satisfied with a life that remained virtually static across a decade. I do not know what pleasure or pain awaits me across next 10 years, or even what might happen tomorrow. But my hope is that the passion I have for growth and learning that has carried me for so long will continue to escalate, and that I might leverage it wisely and humbly to serve others well.