I sat at Rotary Lunch today beside a man who is retiring. He owns a Hospice business. A young minister, very gifted as a pastor, will succeed him. I observed that letting your work go, and "passing the torch" to another, is hard to do. "Oh, you're right," he said, "My successor can't possibly love my people as much as I have."
There it was, the admission that his work was about loving the people, not the money. It is tempting to feel that nobody could come along and love the people as much as he had. He doesn't know that it will be different - that people in need will learn to love the new guy, while still loving the old man.
Sometimes, people come along, at least in a church, who open up doors, who want to hear the story, the history.
It is easy for successors, new and young, to come to a church, and say, "I don't want to hear the story. Don't tell me about the pain or the problems. We'll just begin all over, right here, without worrying about the past."
Many decades ago, a great black preacher came straight out of the racial stirrings in the South, and spoke to the secondary school where I was a student. I remember one great word he spoke. He said, "I am what I am because I stand upon the shoulders of an infinite number of yesterdays." He was not only a poet and a preacher, but he knew it was important to be a historian. You need to know what's gone before. You need to acknowledge history, and build upon its lessons of the past.
That same preacher came to our church here to preach and teach us for three weeks in the summer. It was an honor to have him, and learn from his wisdom.
Just this week, a new staff member came to Colonial Church. He wanted to sit by the fireplace at Covenant Village and learn what he could about our history, including those tumultuous decades of the 1960's and 1970's, which were so hard - and so wonderful.
He too, has a historian's heart. He wants to learn "how it was." I think he has hopes of being part of building on those foundations of the decades past, on so many good things that have gone before. Maybe many will join in to do together the things of God's plan that He has ahead.
In letting go, God has a great chance to build in our lives and institutions the things that are in His mind and heart for the future, that have long been His plans.
Bless you as you still work at the facture of your life, "letting go" so that God's plan can emerge.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES