2006 began an unwanted trend at Anchor: people I really cared about began to leave for one reason or another. They were all hard. Some really hard. Most are still hard to accept. Pastoring is about relationships, about connections, about teamwork, about reliance, about journeying together. So when people you rely on, people you enjoy, people you care about, people you need start leaving, and keep leaving, it's hard to keep going.
At first it was easy to say the hard goodbyes because there were only a couple of them to do. But then there were more. And more. I'm at a point where I waver between caring and not caring. What's one more crucial family to leave? We desperately need them, but they don't or can't be here any more. So what is God up to? It's really hard to see how all these families leaving is for Anchor's best. It's usually easier to focus on my own performance and tell myself that if I had been a better preacher, or a better leader, or a better counselor, or a better friend, or a better....
If I stop caring, then part of me dies. If I keep caring, part of me dies. I guess I'm better off still caring. So once again I go to God in prayer, asking him like crazy to give me wisdom and courage to keep going in whatever direction he wants. Anchor has changed so much in the last two years. Longtime friends have left, some of them helped start the church, some of them friends for decades, some of them close ministry partners. They're gone and I'm still here. New families have come, they are bringing their friends, and Anchor goes on. But how we go on, and how well we go on, all that seems to be up in the air these days.
We will go on. Anchor will reemerge and become something new, I suppose that is what is going on right now. I try and push the fear down: who else will leave? When will someone come and stay for awhile?
Anchor has a beautiful opportunity to bring hope and healing to many individuals, families, and neighbors. There are so many stories of heartache - some of them in the near past, some of them in the painful present. With all these Anchorites needing restoration and reconciliation, I feel like Anchor is at the center of where ministry matters most. I believe in helping them so much, I wish more people were here to join those of us left, to serve and love and lead and experience God's patient and transforming work. I am so glad for who is at Anchor now, for those who serve and those being served.
Not my will, Thy will be done.