Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A view from the pew...

I am accustomed to speaking in church, not listening.  The last six months have afforded me the privilege of being a good listener....or, learning to be a good listener.

As a parishioner, I find myself coming to church with a laundry list of concerns about the week ahead, finances, relationships--all things that can dull my sensitivity to worship and the Word.  Being in the pew has helped me appreciate what the congregations I pastored had to deal with every Sunday, coming from their busy lives to worship.

I have also had to deal with the arrogant tendency to critique everything I hear; after all, I am the "veteran" of forty-six years, preaching probably over 2000 sermons over that period of time.  Such pride inhibits my ability to receive anything from the Lord and as I have humbled myself before Him I have found the preaching and teaching I have heard to be well-done, practical and challenging to me personally.  In truth, I have been drawn closer to the Lord as I have embraced the messages I have heard.

It's a good discipline for me to be in the pew, and to enjoy this season of life where I can be an intentional encourager--not critic--of those who faithfully declare the truth of God's Word.

I like the view!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Once a pastor,always a pastor

I was raised in a Christian home where my father pastored for almost forty years until his untimely death at age 66.  For forty-six years I was a pastor.  So for about 57 of my 65 years I either lived with a pastor or I served as a pastor.  You could say it's in my blood.

I'd rather say it's in my heart.

I don't have a church that I lead any more. I don't team together with a staff of people to provide guidance for a body of believers.  I don't have a group of people who see me and say "Hi, Pastor Dale" any more.  It feels different.

But I am not different.  My heart still wants to pastor.  And I've discovered that in some ways I will always have that opportunity.

I am a pastoral counselor and this morning I have two former parishioners and a former client by phone.  I really was functioning in the familiar role of sharing the Word of God with someone with an express need. As a pastor I loved doing that and I loved and cared for the flock God had entrusted to my care.

The setting is different.  The responsibilities are reduced.  I am part-time, without formal pastoral responsibility.

But my heart is still full-time.  And I am figuring out joyfully how to continue to share the wisdom of God's Word with those God sends my way.

Friday, August 16, 2013


Okay. I am 65 and retirement is generally what people do when they reach that age.

So I am trying.  Granted, I need to work some, but, for the most part, I have discretionary time--a novelty for me, and a huge challenge to use wisely.

Today I spent time with seven of my almost (November add one) twelve grandchildren and got ready for the visit of my twin brother, Dennis, and his wife, Lynn.  We are excited that they are coming--our first overnight visitors--for the weekend (we will see how one bedroom and one bathroom works out...).  This was also a week to set up my counseling office as well as to finish some projects at home.

The non-negotiables of my semi-retirement schedule are the development of my counseling business and the oversight of the work in Haiti we are doing to teach and train pastors.  I return again in November to teach NT Survey ll with two other pastors.

This leaves time for me to think about what I should do with that extra time I am not used to having...and here are some things I am working on.

1.  I have identified two sphere of influence I have that are new to me--my landlord and his yard workers who work on my yard too.  The other is my office building where four other businesses are located.  I have met everyone and am working on establishing relationships so I can share my faith.

2.  A man from the church I attend invited me to a men's discussion group that meets Tuesday mornings at 6 am.  I am thinking about it.  6 am?????

3.  Tim, Bev's son and our pastor, has asked me how much and when I want to be involved in teaching and ministering at Grace Church.  I am praying about that.

4.  One of my grandsons,  Zeke, wants cello lessons.  I can do that!

5.  Julie, my daughter-in-law, has asked me if I would be willing to teach a writing class to            home-schoolers.  Thinking about that.

Lots of opportunities that require thoughtful thinking and prayer.  How can I most effectively use my discretionary time to honor God?

I am retired, or, at least semi-retired.  But I have not retired from ministry and my heart longs for it. God provided me an opportunity to share with my new insurance agent--a one time youth minister who had a bad experience--earlier this week.  It was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my short stay here.

I am adapting...slowly...and learning ion the process that what matters most to me is finishing my life well.  How I use my time will, I hope, be a testimony to that motivation.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Getting settled in and moving forward

It's been  a season of transition and, finally, we are feeling "at home" in Arroyo Grande.  Having Beverly's two sons and their wives, as well as eight grandchildren within a fifteen mile radius, is a definite benefit, as well as the ocean which I love.

I have not kept my blog up-to-date but will continue to use it now that I am getting settled here.  My new counseling office, located at 636 Clarion Court, Suite 101 in San Luis Obispo 93401, will be opening August 26th.  I am also developing a new more functional website at www.Full-LifeCoaching.org and hope to be operational by September 1st.  This will be a way for my friends to access blogs and updates about our life and ministry.

Moving forward, is consistent with the motto of my coaching/counseling practice--"Forward to Fulnesss", drawing on john 10:10 and Jesus' promised intention for us to have "life, life to the full".  I am excited about new ministry opportunities ahead and know that my greatest fulfillment in life comes from serving the Lord.

Thanks for your continuing prayers for us as get settled and prepare now to move forward.