Yep, that's right last week I celebrated my 18th anniversary as Pastor of the church here. Eighteen years is not near as long as I thought. I think by now I probably have some pastoral experience, how come at times it seems like I have none??? Probably one of those imponderable questions. I must say that there have been a few very trying times over those years but mostly they have been good years serving the Lord.
I hope to get in about 18 more years before I completely turn the reigns over to some one a bit younger. I am preparing myself even now to realize that there comes a time when younger men are more capable. I do not want to over stay my real usefulness. Don't get me wrong it is not that I will ever quit the ministry or quit preaching, which is the love of my life, but I know there will come a time when I will be much more effective in a supporting role. I have every intention of being found useful up to the end albeit in differing roles. It is my desire to be making the transition to another younger man some years before I leave the pastorate.
Of course the wonderful thing is that not only did I celebrate my 18th anniversary, my church also celebrated it. I am glad that both parties saw something to celebrate. That is not a blessing that I take lightly. They had a fellowship meal for me and my family after last Sunday morning's services. They bought my wife a very nice bracelet. I was glad to see that they remembered this faithful woman who has stood by my side all these years, sacrificing much without much complaint in a ministry that for years struggled financially. They also remembered me with a new laptop computer. Now.....wasn't that nice! It is my first. You can see it here.
What have I enjoyed most over the last eighteen years pastoring the same (my first) church?
I have enjoyed the additional time to study and my subsequent growth
I have enjoyed watching people I have won be instrumental in leading others to Christ
I have enjoyed my preaching and teaching ministry
I have enjoyed meeting several hundred missionaries and having them in our home
I have enjoyed the opportunity to help people with the word of God
I have enjoyed watching new converts be transformed into consecrated disciples of Christ
I have enjoyed watching the church become more stable in practically every area
I have enjoyed the opportunity to slowly but surely expand my library
I have enjoyed having one of the finest group of men a church has ever known
I have enjoyed the travelling I have had the opportunity to do as pastor
What I have I most benefited from over the last eighteen years of pastoring the same church?
I have benefited from the difficult people I have pastored
I have benefited from the lean years
I have benefited from seeing perseverance pay off
I have benefited from a few older preachers with whom I have had the opportunity to spend time
I have benefited from seeing the fruit of compromise
I have benefited from being betrayed
I have benefited from staying true to principle
On another note:
Next month I will have been driving a school bus for four years. I no longer deliver pizza! For most of those years I have driven the same route in the AM and the PM. The bus was a little over half full. It was 5th - 8th grade. In the middle of the last school year I bid on and was assigned a 2:30 route (kindergarten) This year I have had 21 kindergartners. That seemed like two bus fulls. Fortunately they were only on the bus about 15 minutes and they all got off at two different stops (apartments).
A few weeks ago I bid on and was assigned a new route. It is a route that goes to a little community outside of Freeport and brings the kids back into Freeport to go to school. The bus is full. It is Kindergarten through 12th grade. Most of them are 7th and 8th graders. This route also had a 2:30 attached to it. Now I only have eleven kindergartners. But it takes me about 25 minutes before I drop off the last one.
I bid on this route because the schools were in Freeport, the town where I live and also where I went to school growing up. I delivered pizza in Freeport for 17 years. I know Freeport. Also the route paid more. I am only gone from the house about 20 minutes more a day but make substantially more. Because the route is based at Freeport schools I am able to leave the bus parked at the high school in town and consequently do not have to drive to Clute two times a day saving me about $100.00 a month in fuel. This is also the reason I am not away from the house hardly any longer than I was on the shorter route. The hour I spent driving to and from the bus I now spend driving the bus.
This route has not had a steady driver for probably close to a year. It started the school year with one but she did not last long. It has mostly been occupied by substitute drivers since then.
No seating chart
They eat and drink on the bus
They change seats
They stand up as the bus is coming to a stop
They get on and off at different stops
They throw paper
They yell out the windows
They lean out in the aisle
They do not load the bus properly
They do not unload the bus properly
They talk on their cell phones
In general all of them break some of the rules and some of them break all of the rules.
Besides my regular route students I also, in the afternoon, take students to the Boys & Girls club and some transfer students to another Elementary school across town. I am suppose to have 6th grade girls to the Boys and Girls club and 6th grade boys and girls transfer students. Because the bus had a substitute driver for so long the students caught on an there were lots of students riding my bus that were suppose to be on others.
I realized I was in trouble when I made out a seating chart from the list I had been given and there were numerous people riding the bus for whom I did not have a name, and their were people assigned seats who did not ride the bus.
So.......not only am I assigned a new route but I am assigned the task of bringing order out of chaos. Driving the bus is easy. Getting a handle on student behaviour is going to be a little longer project.
After two weeks I have almost convinced the middle school students in the afternoon that they will not be allowed to board my bus if they do not belong there. Already it is a bit more manageable.
As for the route students. This is a bit more tricky. I don't want them to hate me, but more than that I want us all to get home safely. So they may have to hate me before they can learn to love me! We will get some order, hopefully within the month so that the last couple of months their ride to and from school will be different than what they have known to this point. Then, those that come back next year, which will be most of them, will already have an idea of what to expect when they see Mr. McEntire.
Rome was not built in a day!
With only about eighteen years of pastoring left I better get busy................