February 26, 2008, I started this blog. At the time, blogging was all the rage in both social media and as a side function in church ministry. Several folks made money blogging, a few even got books deals based on their blog popularity. Some are still quite famous for putting together a blog and keeping it going.
Me? I haven’t garnered any money from this project. There for a time, I was signed up for Google AdSense, a program I don’t even know if they still have, but I made exactly nothing and so just deleted that. (If you see an ad here, it’s from the blog-host company, not me.) What I have done, though, is learned a few things. I thought I’d attempt a re-start into this habit by considering those.
To get there, though, let’s review some changes since that February…
First, when I started this, I lived in Southaven, Mississippi, with my wife and three small children (oldest was 6!) We owned a house. I worked for UPS and had just resigned from a bi-vocational (part-time pay) pastorate in Northeast Arkansas.
Now? We live in Southeast Arkansas. Our youngest child is 15, the oldest is a junior in college, and we don’t own a house anymore. We learned in 2008-2010 the chaos of a bad housing market and in 2021 what a seller’s market looks like. We’ve passed through all the potty training and are almost done with driver training. I don’t work for UPS anymore and now am a full-time pastor.
Second, when I started this I had given up on formal education for me. I was about a third done with a Master of Divinity and thought that was all I would do there. Maybe I would stay with UPS and get a business degree and make lots of money.
Now? I finished the Master of Divinity and learned a lot about the differing educational environments in Christian seminaries. I am one dissertation and presentation short of a Doctor of Philosophy in Christian Heritage and also have two probable next degrees after I take some time off.
Third, wow, did I mention the kids have grown up a lot?
Fourth, we have moved and are on our fifth home since 2008. It’s a lot. Probably too much, to be honest, but you go where you need to and when you need to.
So, what have I learned?
I have learned that even with a broader depth of experience than many of my peers over the years, there is still a lot that I didn’t know. I personally would love to delete every website comment I made prior to about 2015 because I just don’t know if I agree with them anymore—and maybe half the ones since then! I might say the same things; I might say the same things in different ways; some I might completely disown.
I have learned that you can do the best you can and it will still fail. You will still fail. That does not make me a failure, or you one. It means you failed, yes, but what you do is only part of you who you are.
I have learned that I talk too much and don’t listen enough. And still do.
A key thought, though, is this: I have learned that some folks do not accept that others are allowed to keep learning. It is important that we all keep learning, and it’s important that you let other people learn. Across those last 14 years, I have been rejected for jobs that I am glad I didn’t get; rejected for some I wonder if would have been good; but it’s all water over the levee at this point. There’s only one that still stings: a church in 2010 called a church I worked for in 2000-2002 and took that pastor’s word that I was immature, as if I hadn’t learned or grown in the life experiences across the 8 years since that time.
It bugged me that they then didn’t ask me about it.
Here’s the rub, because I don’t really want that job (I like the one I have): I wonder how often I’ve done that? Judged someone based off of a long-ago portrait? Now, some character traits show easily and you it’s hard to change, but do we evaluate a person at 40 based on whether or not they were mature at 22?
Do we in Christian circles judge someone’s theology based on papers they wrote at 24 and before they even knew Greek or Hebrew or what “homoiousious” means?
Make space in your life to learn, but keep at a close second this truth: allow for the possibility that others have learned, as well. You are not who you were 14 years ago; make no assumptions that the other person is, either.
(Oh, and I haven't learned how to make anything but a flat text blog post.)