...after 40 some years in parish ministry.
I know I should know the exact number, but I'm terrible at that sort of thing. Besides, maybe he wouldn't want everyone to know the exact number.
A lot has changed in the years he has been in ministry. He started his ministry in a more conservative branch of the Lutheran church, but now is in a branch of the Lutheran church which, for example, ordains women. He has a persistently inquiring mind and is an expert at historical Jesus studies. But, he's also quite insightful when it comes to interpersonal matters and counseling.
He works harder than any pastor I've ever known. But, that doesn't mean that he doesn't know the value of spending time with family. Recently, I've confessed being conflicted regarding my work and my need to spend time with my dad. My colleague said, "You will never regret the time you take for your dad now."
In the event we have an misunderstanding, he's always willing to hear me out, and to work through it.
I'm thinking right now about all the changes that have taken place in the past forty-odd years -- changes in the culture, changes in churches, changes in the expectations for pastors. Forty-odd years ago, no one talked or worried too much about whether or not a particular church was "growing". People were pretty loyal to their denominations. The big revolution called "women's liberation" was just beginning. Women were on the verge of being ordained in my denomination.
So many things are different now -- we are in a "paradigm shift", as some say. The church is no longer in quite the same position of respect as it once was. There is much more competition in making meaning for people's lives.
In the midst of many changes, it's a good time to celebrate forty-some years of faithfulness to a call, and to pray for courage in times of transition.
May the coming generations have even half the wisdom as the ones before us.