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Minister's Column: What have we learned?

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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) at one of its satellite locations in Cedar Falls. This is one of those conferences I try to attend every year with my staff as it always provides a great number of lessons for us to take away and chew on in the months to come.

I was excited to attend this year’s conference as it is on the heels of one of the most challenging years any of have lived through in recent history.

The final speaker of the event was a man by the name of Albert Tate. Albert is the pastor at Fellowship Church in Monrovia, California, and during his message he made a statement that resonated with my staff and me.

Albert shared his story about lessons he learned over the past couple years as COVID flipped his world upside down. During any normal year, he would fly nearly a million miles a year to speak at churches and various events, but in 2020 the majority of his events were canceled. He found himself working from home and life looked radically different.

As things slowly opened back up, and school sports began to take place, he was able to be present in a way that he hadn’t before and unexpectedly his relationship with his son began to change in really healthy ways. As he attended his son’s football practices and events, his son began to look to him for encouragement and support in ways he never had before.

With tears in his eyes, he shared how dramatic and life giving this shift was for himself, his son, and family as a whole. However, as travel restrictions have been removed, and speaking opportunities are coming along again, this was when he shared his statement that is still sticking with me today. He said, “What if the last two years was the lesson and moving back to normal is the test? Will we continue doing all the things that we learned and began over the past year?”

You may want to read that again, and think on it.

As a pastor, I know this past year has been incredibly hard for all of us. Many of us have been pushed to our limits and have wrestled in many ways. Yet, over the past 18 months or so, I have heard time and time again from parents and others who have found incredible gems emerge over this time that they wouldn’t have come across otherwise.

As our church was shut down, and many turned to watching services online, I heard from several parents who said, “Andy, this has been the most incredible past few months. I’m watching the services with my kids and we are getting the chance to talk about them in a way that we never did before.”

Others have shared how during the shutdown, their families enjoyed more time together playing games. Others began to take time to exercise, read books or their Bible, or to connect with family they hadn’t seen in years through a phone call or zoom.

The past couple years pushed us, but so do all things that cause us to grow. The question is: As we move forward, will we keep in mind the lessons we have learned? Will we allow our new discoveries of what is really important, and of how life can be done differently, more intentionally, to stick with us, or are we simply hoping to return to our old pace, our old lifestyle?

I’m not saying I want our local economy, country, and the challenges we are still facing to stay stuck, but simply that I hope we don’t throw out the good rhythms we’ve discovered along the way.

While it’s easy to focus on the negatives, I’d encourage you take time with your family to reflect on what’s been good about the past couple years. What will it take to keep those newly discovered rhythms in place, so that you, your family, and your other relationships can continue to benefit?


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