A Slip & Fall… What a Wipeout Taught Me About Pastoring

Yesterday I slipped and fell. Hard.

I know in our town and possibly in many others there may have been some questions about whether or not school ought to have been cancelled. Well, I’m with the schools on this one. I’m throwing my support behind better safe than sorry.

I wiped out embarrassingly hard at the top of my driveway on the way back toward my house after starting Kingsley (my 2011 Subaru Outback) to warm the car up. Not to be overly dramatic but this was the kind of fall that happens in an instant and still seems to happen in slow motion. My life did not flash before my eyes, but I was instantly terrified about my back because three and half years ago I suffered a burst fracture of my T12 vertebrae. So now with every winter and the attending snow and ice I feel like I’m playing at a high risk gambit with spine/life. Never mind the fact that due to the pitch of our driveway every time it snows, ices, or sleets the driveway is suddenly transformed into a Olympic-caliber luge (the other day I tried parking Kingsley toward the top of the driveway three times only to slide down to the bottom and that with the parking brake set)!

I landed on my tailbone first and then immediately proceeded to smack the back of my head against the frozen cement resulting in an instant ringing in my ears, shortness of breath, and general disorientation. Oh, and my glasses went flying off somewhere too (since recovered). What followed was I’m certain quite the sight as I stumbled into the house and called out to Laurel to come examine me as I more or less collapsed at the side of our bed. I had (still have…) a substantial goose egg on my head complete with abrasions, some small abrasions on my right hand, and today I’m realizing that I must have gone through some degree of whiplash as well.

Rough stuff to start off an otherwise run of the mill Tuesday morning.

The Bible teaches us that our lives “are a vapor/mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14), and that we should “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I don’t think that I really came anywhere close to dying in my driveway yesterday. In fact, after taking some extra time to rest and recover in the morning after lunch I went on with the rest of my day as close to scheduled as possible. However, there was just enough panic and pain in this experience to remind me that my days are limited and tomorrow (or the rest of today) is never guaranteed to me, as much as the organization and accoutrement of my life may try to get me to believe otherwise.

In our weekly prayer guide for Monday night prayer we asked the church family to pray through the following:

 

This week the elders of Freshwater Church are asking for special prayer as we undertake to set out specific plans for Freshwater’s next chapter of church life and ministry. Pray that as we gather together that we would have wisdom from the Lord. Pray that as we seek feedback from the members of Freshwater that we would have ears to hear and that we would be all the more humble and considerate. Pray that we hear from God himself! It is our deepest desire to shepherd Freshwater Church well and we absolutely cannot do that apart from the Holy Spirit moving in us and through us. Pray that the elder council will have unity together and would continuously love and lay ourselves down for the church. 

 

And then on Tuesday morning I ate it at the top of my driveway.

To be a pastor who has a heart of wisdom I have to understand that my days of shepherding Freshwater Church are numbered, by the Lord. There will come a day, by one mean or another, that I will no longer be a pastor-shepherd to Freshwater Church. I hope and pray that such a day is far from today.

Regardless of when that day is to be a faithful pastor to the church means discipling and training others in such a way that they can take my place and thrive, it means keeping the pastoral office in tune with Jesus and our people to such a degree that another might receive it from the Chief Shepherd and be able to succeed, and it means leading the church in such a way that when that numbered day does come whenever it may be that we can transition well by keeping on with our mission to glorify God and advance the Gospel and flourish together as a family all the while.

I am not there yet. If I had gone home to the Lord in my driveway yesterday, or if the Lord called my family to a new assignment tomorrow we would not be ready. The next pastor nor the church would be in the best possible position to thrive, succeed, and flourish in and through transition. I am sorry and I hope for our church family’s forgiveness and partnership as we go forward.

Over the course of the next several weeks the elders will be taking intentional steps to put our church and its leaders, both present and future, in the best possible position to thrive, succeed, and flourish. We will be seeking insight and feedback from the members of Freshwater Church and addressing matters of leadership structure, ministry continuity, and most importantly God’s vision for the future of Freshwater Church. We are excited to labor with our entire church family in this effort, and you will be hearing more on this initiative on a Sunday morning very soon. I hope all of our church family will commit to praying for Freshwater and with our leaders as we strive to “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

In Christ’s Love,

Dave