I was on a trip this past weekend visiting several churches and church leaders in Southern California. Trips like this always give me a good opportunity to reflect on my own church and all that God has done at Grace Fellowship over the 11 years I have had the privilege of being her Lead Pastor.
When I got to Grace our weekend service had just over 50 people and about 70 people called the church home. Some of those folks are still here, but some have moved on. But I am grateful for all of them. Every one of them laid the foundation on which the current people who call Grace home walk. I also thought about the 5 families that started the church. I thought about the founding pastor and his wife. I thought about the building the church built before I got there (one that we were able to use, maximize and then sell). I thought about the faithful volunteers that served there that I never met. As I reflected on this, I was so thankful for all of it. I was humbled to think about people who went before me and the thousands that call Grace home now.
My mind then transitioned to how honor is not something my generation does well. I am 37. Christian leaders in my generation are often really good at ignoring, hurting and dishonoring those older than them in the name of building the future. Vision and mission have become reasons to be rude and condescending. I was reminded of a crucial principle. While building the future, never dishonor the past.
There are many that were here, no matter where here is, first. I am so thankful for their faithfulness, effort, dreams, prayers, and generosity. I want to be someone who finds ways to honor and leverage those who were there first. I want to move forward and that has meant and will mean change, but I believe this can be done by honoring the people on whose shoulders we are standing. I think this is so true in any area of life whether business or athletics or government, but it is clearly true for churches. There is no honor and godliness in young leaders who make it their mission to tell older people why they are wrong and how they have no more really effective ministry left. Honor those who were there first.