This is the season of graduations. Over the past three weeks I’ve seen the pictures of the graduating seniors for all the area high schools. I’ve attended several graduation parties. I’ve seen pictures on Facebook of everything from preschool graduations to graduate degree graduations. This is truly a time for recognizing accomplishments and achievements in learning.
So, the question I want to ask today is this, “What have you learned this past year?” Or another way to put it, “What new degree could or should you receive, or what accomplishment do you need to recognize in your own life?” Now understand, I’m not talking about a “participation trophy” for just being in an event or making it through a situation. I’m asking what have you learned? How have you grown this past year that is making you a better person today than you were six months ago?
Now, just so you know, I get it. Once many of us get out of “school” we’re tired of it and we want to get on with our lives. When I graduated from seminary back in 1986, I calculated that I had been in school of one type or another for 20 years of my 26 year life…and that’s not counting Mrs. Sorenson and Kindergarten. When I graduated from seminary, I said, “I’m done” with school.
But the truth is, even though I did complete my formal education back in 1986, I have continued to learn new things year after year since then. It’s just that I generally haven’t gotten a degree or certificate (diploma) to go along with my learning. For instance, this past year, actually, just the past 3 months, I’ve been working with an executive coach. In just the short time we’ve been working together I have already learned some new things about myself and how I can be more effective in ministry. (By the way, in case you’re wondering, an Executive Coach is intended to help me learn to be a better leader and to be more effective as a Lead Pastor.)
The reason this coaching is important is because with only having one pastor on staff at Downtown Mitchell First UMC, namely me, I am going to have to learn to do things differently. I am going to have to learn to be more effective and diligent in giving ministry away to the people of our church, because my time and ability will not allow me to do what Jerry and I have been doing together.
Actually, this is the way that ministry is most effective. This is what Jesus modeled with the disciples. He was continually equipping and sending the disciples (lay people) to do the work of ministry in the communities in the Jerusalem and Galilee areas, the places where Jesus spent most of his time.
So, today I’m going to take a piece of paper and write on it the things I’ve learned this past year. I’m going to roll it up and tie a ribbon around it. After all, if you do a Google Image Search of “graduation diploma” a common image you’ll see is a rolled-up piece of paper with a ribbon around it. I’m going to hand it to myself, congratulate myself, and then challenge myself to keep on learning. You see, God isn’t done with me yet…and there’s always more to learn. I would also challenge you to do the same thing. Write down the things you’ve learned this past year. Take a moment to celebrate what you’ve achieved. And then, jump back in, keep on learning and growing, because God isn’t done with you yet either. Here’s to all the graduates of 2019… including each of us!!!