I have a music play list on my iPhone entitled “Running Music,” and that’s what it is: music I listen to while running. Sometimes, I listen to it in my truck. On a few occasions, my children (much to their dismay) are forced to listen to it in my truck. A couple of weeks ago, my children heard The Man in Black on the radio. While I’m not usually a country music fan (or at least modern country music, save maybe Garth Brooks), I do enjoy Johnny Cash’s resonant baritone and wonderful lyrics.
My ears perked up when I heard Cash croon the following:
I was toting my pack along the long dusty Winnemucca road
When along came a semi with a high canvas covered load
If you’re goin’ to Winnemucca, Mack with me you can ride
And so I climbed into the cab and then I settled down inside
He asked me if I’d seen a road with so much dust and sand
And I said, “Listen! I’ve traveled every road in this here land!”
I hurriedly told my kids to listen and they were amazed. As Cash (with me singing right along) rolled off a litany of small towns across the United States where he’d played concerts, it occurred to me that I had just completed my first year of working at CBF/GA. Through my first year, I could sing a similar song but with the geography limited mostly to Georgia.
By my somewhat unofficial tally, I’ve traveled over 12,000 miles by car and over 1750 miles by plane on behalf of CBF/GA! I have met with pastors of 56 of our partnering, contributing congregations, as well as with with deans of the McAfee School of Theology (our theological educational partner), the President and some upper level members of the President’s Cabinet of Mercer University, the staff of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-Global, the staff of CBF of North Carolina, twice with the Movement Leadership Team (composed of state and regional coordinators throughout CBF life). While I haven’t been everywhere, I’ve been a lot of places to say the least.
Even after a year, people still ask me “How’s your new job going?” And I always answer, “It’s going well and I love it.” And it’s the truth. We’ve had to make some tough decisions in this first year with staff, facilities, and programs, and those haven’t been much fun, but the decisions were needed and vital, I believe, to our continued ministry and mission. But the staff at CBF/GA – Martha Kate Hall, Melissa Kremer, and Rachel Greco – are good folk who have put up with me and my idiosyncrasies. They’ve taught me a lot in the process as well. I also get to work alongside some of the best pastors and clergy I know. They’re committed to God’s kingdom and to their local congregations. They’ve given their God-given talents and time to making life on earth as it is in heaven, or at least trying to do so.
This coming year, there is much more to be done. We’ve got some new programs and new ministry opportunities that we’re shepherding. And there is more travel to be done, too. If I haven’t made it to your congregation or to meet your pastor and staff yet, I’m coming.
Frederick Buechner writes, “When you lose yourself in your work, you find who you are.” I’m grateful that I’ve been so lost in my work that I hardly noticed I had celebrated a year with you. And I’m grateful that I’m discovering more of who I am and who God continues to create me to be.