The letter came to my church office. It was from one of our members, a woman we knew well. She was writing to inform me she was leaving our church. "I just don't get it," she wrote. "Why do you preach about doctrine so much? Don't you know doctrine brings division in the church? You should stop preaching about doctrine, and instead, focus on the love of God.
I was sad to hear she was leaving our congregation, but I wished before her departure, she had sat down with me to talk about the importance of doctrine. Even the love of God, she wanted me to focus on, is a doctrine.
As a youth pastor in the early 1990's, I was blessed to serve with a lead pastor who was 78 years of age. I was in my first ministry position. He was in his last. Some might have thought our relationship would be a recipe for conflict. After all, he was 55 years older than me. But the opportunity was exactly what I needed.
I was smart enough to respect his 50 plus years of ministry, and he was kind enough to give me a chance to serve when few others would have. We would spend two years together until he retired. Looking back now, I recognize how formative those 24 months were in my life. They were so impactful because of the pastor's intentional discipleship and mentoring of my character and ministry.
Years ago, my family vacationed in England. Towards the end of the trip, we spent a couple of days in Oxford. When it was time to head home, we checked out of the apartment we had rented and took a taxi to the train station. The train would take us back to London for our flight out of Heathrow. As we were standing in line at the train stations, my wife looked at our tickets, and I heard her gasp. "We bought train tickets for the wrong day," she said.
I took a look at the tickets and confirmed our mistake. To make matters worse, all the computers were down at the train terminal. The ticket agent's advice was to board the train and hope for the best! We boarded the crowded train with our three young daughters. As the conductor approached us, checking each passenger's tickets, our hearts were beating in our chests. Should he put us off the train, we would have been stranded in the city with no place to go.
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