New Year – New Opportunities

I have to confess that I like new things. Maybe that’s why New Year’s Day may be one of my favorite days of the year. A new adventure. A new destination. Even a fresh new page in a brand new journal!

I realize that New Year’s Day is not exactly a holiday (holy day), except for college football fans. But this day does seem spiritually significant.

Like many of you, I take several hours on the days leading up to January 1, to reflect on the past year and project into the year ahead. My reflections include highlights of the past year. I think back over victories and disappointments. Mistakes made. Lessons learned. Friendships formed. Chapters closed. Doors opened.

One of the biggest changes has been in our family life. The countdown to launch is on with our kids. Our four children are wonderful and it looks like we’ve survived the teenage years without major catastrophe. They really are amazing young people. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed growing up with them!

John and Lindsey were married just over a year ago and are thriving in pastoral ministry serving on staff at Stoney Creek Church.

Josiah is months away from graduation with only 2 more classes and his internship in student teaching left this semester. He stays busy filling in to lead worship at several churches in the area. I’m excited to see where God leads him in the fall.

Joel is a junior this year and serves as president of the student council at Kingswood University. He is also member of the inaugural Buckingham Leadership Institute Scholars, a monthly mentoring experience with Dr. Laurel Buckingham.

Jordan, our 17-year-old, is always a delight to us and is enjoying her freshman year at Kingswood. This New Year’s Day finds her serving in Haiti with Dean Stephenson’s Catons Island counselor team.

But this fall, Sherry and I are likely to be empty-nesters, unless Jordan takes pity on us and follows us to a destination yet unknown. That will be a big change. Sherry has always enjoyed serving clients in her accounting and tax practice, but has been careful to not let it come ahead of our children. For the next few years, at least until grandchildren start arriving, she is looking forward to developing her practice more broadly. Whatever she does, it will be with excellence and contagious enthusiasm.

And then there’s me. I turned 55 this past year. Trusting God for favor and health, I’d like to be as energetic and enthusiastic at 75 as is Dr. Laurel Buckingham, my friend and mentor. If that’s the case, I am just beginning what I believe will be the most productive 20 years of my life.

I have been incredibly blessed to serve the church in a variety of capacities: youth and music leader (North Carolina and Alabama), church planter (Mississippi), pastor (North Dakota and Azerbaijan), district superintendent (Wisconsin, Michigan), and now as a college president.

The past 5 years at Kingswood University have been amazing. I’ve learned so much. I’ve worked with a dedicated team. I’ve met wonderful people. I’ve been blessed to see God work in miraculous ways. But I really did sense last year that this chapter was closing. My goal is always to leave a place better than I found it. I believe, with the help of God, I have accomplished that assignment.

And bright days are ahead for Kingswood. I am confident that the new president will hit the ground running with vision and passion that will take KU to even greater levels of impact in preparing workers for the Harvest.

Some friends have asked what I’m planning to do after leaving Kingswood. The honest answer is that I don’t know yet. I do know I’ll be more engaged in coaching and consulting, especially with leaders in local churches. And there’s a writing project that’s been calling my name. But if you have room on your prayer list for one more request, we would be grateful for you to pray that Sherry and I will clearly know and follow God’s will for this new chapter.

Whatever door God chooses to lead us through, He is so good and faithful that I am confident that He will make a way, even through the wilderness. And, I fully expect to find streams in the desert!

May God crown you with His blessing and favor in all 8,760 hours of this new year as you pursue Him!

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

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