The year was 1987.
After ten years of full-time ministry in Oklahoma City, Cathy and I, along with our two grade schoolers, Joel and Laura, came to Brentwood, TN. A friend had told me before I decided to leave the ministry that I should give it one more shot. New Hope Community Church was the destination, and little did we know what a journey it would be.
Now after thirty-two years, twenty-seven as the senior pastor, and the last five years overseeing pastoral care, it’s time to make a transition into retirement from full-time ministry. There have been many highs, and at times, significant lows. Yet through all of my shortcomings, God has been faithful.
I am most thankful for my wife Cathy, who has always been my biggest supporter and helpmate. If nobody else told me, she always let me know that every sermon I preached was a good one. I am most thankful that Joel and Laura, and their wonderful spouses and families, are active in their churches. Their mother played a key role as they, fortunately, did not hold it against their father when he was physically absent or emotionally spent.
Over the years I learned that church is about being in a relationship and loving people as much as it is about Christ. You cannot survive forty-two years in full-time ministry by feeding your ego with your successes. My gauge of success was always to ask myself two questions. How well do I love people? And do they love one another? In some small way, I hope we accomplished that at New Hope Community Church.
Lastly, I want to thank the church for putting up with me and forgiving me when I fell short of the mark. It’s probably an understatement to say how few men and women ever serve a total of thirty-two years in full-time ministry, much less at the same church.
So I am thankful for Pastor Josh and the current leadership for allowing me the freedom to retire from full-time ministry, while also giving me the opportunity to remain involved in the various ministries of the church.
I am blessed.
Pastor Paul Bane