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It's been a long time...but here I am back in Stratford

It has been nearly 6 years since I have updated this blog; my apologies. For those that had been following for some time, since I last posted: I stepped down as Senior Pastor at New Covenant church in Knoxville, I moved to Ankeny, Iowa, started a new ministry with St. Croix hospice as Chaplain. I was chaplain with St. Croix for about 4 1/2 years, then in 2020 I moved back to Stratford to pastor First Baptist church. It was a big change going from chaplain work back to the pastorate. 

I must confess, when I first came (back) to Stratford I was ready to pastor again! I love preaching; I love the ministry of being a pastor, and I love interacting with people long-term. (Being a chaplain is great, but you only interact with a family for a week or so, for some a little longer, but there was a constant upheaval of people and it was exhausting at times...) But, one thing that I have noticed since my stroke is that I get my feeling hurt easily. For instance, people leave the church all the time for various reasons; for the first 20 years of ministry I did a good job of not taking it personally, but, recently I have a found it harder to  control that and I take it very personally when people leave the church. Even if they are just gone for several weeks, I constantly "beat myself up" over what I did that caused them to leave. I allow myself to be hurt very deeply because I genuinely care and love all of the people in the church and to think that they don't love us anymore (which is probably not true, but that is how my stroke interprets it) hurts deeply. 

I love pastoring, but I have come to doubt myself so much recently. I know the "correct" answer: just remember that you do it for God and not for anyone else. Sure, intellectually I know that but since my stroke I have a harder time internalizing it. There are certain things you can't seem to expect: my entire life changed in an instant. Most times I do well with my "new normal"; but, sometimes my shortfalls get magnified in my own eyes, even if no one else sees them. Thanks for listening to me "vent". I pray that my next post (which will not be 6 years later) will be better. 

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