My wife and I recently made the hardest decision of our adult lives. After serving twenty-six years as the preaching pastor of our beloved Grace Bible Church, I have accepted a call to serve as the Director of the Christian Counseling program at Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) in Charlotte, North Carolina.
What made the decision so incredibly difficult is that we love our life in San Diego. We love our church family and our fellow leaders, many of whom have been serving alongside us since the church’s inception in 1990. We have built lifelong friendships. The church is healthy. We eagerly anticipate each Lord’s Day. We have lived in the same house for almost thirty years, raised our children under its roof and customized it to reflect our lifestyle and personalities. Our plan was to remain here for the rest of our lives and to continue ministry so long as we could be useful.
We were surprised when we were offered the amazing opportunity to lead and shape a new program at RTS which will equip church leaders to care for the people of God using the all-sufficient Scriptures. We were greatly encouraged as we got to know the faculty and staff at RTS. We were impressed by their godliness, their commitment to Christ, the Scriptures and the church, their enthusiasm for biblical counseling, and the kindness they showed to us personally. We love the fact that those in the counseling program will take seminary classes covering the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. We appreciate that the program at RTS will require many hours of supervised counseling experience for our graduates. We are excited about exposing future pastors to biblical counseling as they are being equipped to shepherd God’s flock. The potential to have an extensive long-term impact is very great.
But we had been so happy and comfortable in San Diego. We haven’t had to move in almost thirty years (and moving is a nightmare). The last time we left a ministry we had no choice – we were kicked out of a Middle Eastern country in 1987. This time we would have to face our beloved church and say that we had made the decision to leave them. I don’t like emotional scenes. Both my wife and I are by nature very resistant to change.
We made long lists of pros and cons. We sought counsel from people both inside and outside of the church. Sometimes it seemed that the more we analyzed our choices, the more confused we felt. Finally, we made the decision to go based upon one final important consideration. Where would we have the most potential to make the greatest impact in this next (and late) season of our lives? The Psalmist says, “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to strength eighty years… So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom…Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands (Psalm 90:10,12,17).”
So the movers are coming tomorrow morning. We can’t be certain what the future will hold, but we trust that God will do good in many lives (including ours) and bring glory to Himself. Please join us in praying for this new opportunity to strengthen the church of Christ through the training of biblical counselors.