December 29, 2008

Embracing the Seasons of Life (2)

Written By Cary Schmidt

Things I Don’t Regret When Looking Back Ten Years

All of this started with a project to review and organize our family photos over the Christmas break. 15,600 photos later, I sat back in awe of God’s goodness and the fast passing of time. I was overwhelmed by two thoughts. The first had to do with how “seasonal” life was, and the second was simply, “I’m SO glad that we made all these memories!” In the moments, some of those choices were difficult to make, but looking back on them, there are no regrets.

I get asked a lot about priorities, family time, schedule, and balance. Perhaps these points will cause you to think through big values and help you live 2009 with no regrets.

Things I Don’t Regret Personally

1. Walking with God—a close relationship with God never gets old. His strength and enabling are really the only way to get it all done. Don’t go it alone!

2. Winning People to Christ—I love seeing those in the church family that the Lord allowed me to lead to Christ.

3. Staying in God’s Will—in spiritual battle it seems like the devil always gives opportunities to run away. It’s a lie. Don’t quit doing and pursuing God’s call on your life. There’s something very powerful about having laser focus on God’s will and never veering of course.

4. Investing My Whole Life into God’s Work—I’m thankful that every day I get to serve God. I’m not doing ministry plus other things or other things and “a little ministry.” I don’t regret putting all of my life into the ministry category.

Things I Don’t Regret with Family

1. Staying Committed to a Local Church—the local church is God’s idea, and it still works! I LOVE investing my heart and family into a local church ministry. It was one of the very best decisions we could have ever made.

2. Serving God Together—rather than buying into the idea that ministry and family conflict and compete, we just decided years ago to serve God as a family. Ministry and family complete each other in a wonderful way. It’s awesome to have a life-time of memories of serving God together.

3. Family Vacations—I can’t believe we’ve taken 18 family vacations together! All of them were tough to afford, and a few I had to borrow for, but I do not regret one second of any of them. They have been foundational to the strength of our family.

4. Spontaneous Surprises—there are countless times when I’ve splurged to do something special and to surprise our kids—like a Lakers or a Dodgers game, a day at Disneyland, or a night out to eat. God has always provided when He leads me in some small way to love my family.

5. Marriage Getaways—taking the advice of others from years ago, a couple times a year, on average, we get away for a night or two. Again, when trying to afford these things, they often seem “discretionary.” But looking back they were essential, and God always provides a way.

6. Family Days/Trips—whether it was a normal day off, a field trip, a sports game, or just a family night, I’m so glad we had each one of them!

Things I Don’t Regret in Ministry

1. Helping to Realize a Vision—how many times in the life of an assistant pastor is he asked, “So when will you get promoted and go pastor somewhere?” Too many to count. I’m so glad I have found the center of God’s will to be helping to fulfill the vision of a great pastor. I love serving the Lord on this team. Don’t need to go “be” anybody else!

2. Aggressive Ministry—a long time ago we stopped saying, “It isn’t always this busy,” because—well, it is. But in reality, I love serving in a busy, aggressive ministry with a lot going on. Finding balance is a little more difficult, but still quite possible.

3. The Struggle for Balance—when I first started in ministry, I didn’t like the struggle for balance, but looking back, I actually value it. I appreciate the healthy tension in my heart between meeting the needs of my growing family and the needs of a growing ministry. I love the challenges and thank God that both are important enough to press upon me and demand more of me. I believe this is the single greatest factor that helps a person reach their potential.

4. Serving People—a great way to start every day is to simply say, “Lord I am here to serve, help me to know who and how, and give me your power to serve the way you want me to.” One of ministry’s greatest rewards has been seeing those who grew up in our student ministry now serving the Lord. It’s an even greater privilege to serve with them!

5. Student Ministry—After nineteen years, it’s pretty exciting to see young people stay faithful to God. How we need more youth pastors and leaders who will stay in youth and family ministry longer than a few years!

6. Stewardship Opportunities—every year our church has a major giving emphasis with a special offering that goes toward campus development. Every year we have participated and God has provided. I don’t regret one dollar that we’ve invested over the years!

Well, that’s the short list, and it’s only by God’s grace that we’ve made it this far. I pray that I could write another article like this in ten more years. I pray the same for you. May 2009 be a blessed year of no regrets in your life! Feel free to share your thoughts, and thanks for reading!