A big thank you to everyone who came to support me on 11 January, as I was appointed as Lead Elder of Grace Church. It was a fantastic evening, and so encouraging for me. I hope it was for you too.
Steve is still here, but for a little while he will be an elder on my team rather than the other way around. That feels weird!
And how else am I feeling now? Well, certainly privileged to have been entrusted with the leadership of such a wonderful church. I wonder if Steve feels the same way I did recently the first time I handed my car keys over to my son, Jake: “Here it is. Don’t break it!”
I also feel hugely excited. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the life of Grace Church. We have much to do and much to enjoy along the way. But more on that later…
I would be lying if I didn’t ‘fess up to being a little nervous. It was so good to get prayed for last Wednesday. Never underestimate the power of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I’m not doing this job because I am super-human, but rather because I serve an all-powerful God! We could all limit ourselves to what is well within our natural capabilities and ‘play it safe’ all our lives. But where is the fun in that? I’m now Lead Elder of Grace Church. God help us all. And do you know what? He will!
Finally, I am also immensely grateful. I’m grateful for the love and encouragement I have received from the people of Grace Church. I am also grateful to God for letting me stay in Grace Church for the next season. Let me explain that.
“Are you really prepared to follow me wherever I call you?”
We did the whole moving thing when we came to Chichester in 2010. People do survive moving house and relocating their lives, and indeed we did survive, but it was a painful experience that I would happily not repeat for many years. For a few years now, I have been aware that God was calling me to be lead elder of a church, and while that was exciting at one level, I also had a growing sense of doom that this meant moving on from Grace Church. For a while it was easier just to ignore the whole thing.
Then I felt God begin to say to me, “Are you really prepared to follow me wherever I call you?” Well, cutting out the part where I put my fingers in my ears and concentrated on other things, I finally reached a point where I was content to trust God. Practically speaking, we began to think about getting the house ready to sell.
It was then that God said, “OK, actually it is this church that I want you to lead!” God waited until I was happy to move before he told me I didn’t need to. Was God having a bit of fun at my expense? I don’t think so.
In a small way it reminds me of Abraham showing God that he was really ready to sacrifice his son, Isaac, before God told him that he didn’t need to. (In that case, God provided the sacrifice himself in the form of a ram - a picture of how he later sent his Son so that he could die in our place. But that’s another, much better story!) Abraham reached that point of saying, “I will follow you, Lord, whatever.” When we get to that place in our lives, it opens up the way to God’s richest blessing.
It is good to know that I would have followed God’s call wherever it took me. But mostly I am so grateful that I get to lead Grace Church.