A Time of Reflection by Dennis Garcia

I’ve heard it said that you should never shop when you are hungry.  It makes sense, right?  When you’re hungry everything looks delicious!  Inevitably, you’ll end up buying far more stuff than you would have normally bought.  I think a similar thing can be said when reflecting on the past.  Never dwell on the past when you’re feeling discouraged.  However, sometimes it just can’t be avoided.

On the last Sunday of March, I celebrated 4 years as the pastor here at The People Church.  We’ve come a long way in four years!  We’ve seen God do a number of amazing things over the past four years!  I feel blessed to have been part of what God has done in and through this church.  And for those things I am grateful.  However, on some level, I feel like these things are done in spite of me rather than because of anything I’ve done.

You see, I look back at the past four years, and I see a lot of great and amazing things, but I also see a lot of mistakes and missed opportunities on my part.  Most days I wake up feeling absolutely unqualified and inadequate for the position that I have at our church.  Most days I think there must be 1,000 other guys who could do it better.  And usually, when I look back on the past, the mistakes seem to be much more prominent in my mind than the victories and successes.  Perhaps you’ve been there before?

Four years ago this church took a chance on a young, unproven leader with no senior pastor experience.  I’ve heard it said that when starting a new career, you will make the majority of your mistakes in the first five years.  While I hope that is true, I do know that I’ve made more than I care to admit.  Probably more than I even know about.

Now, before you think this is all doom and gloom I want to say this, “When we think about the mistakes in our past, they can either become an anchor to hold us back or a spring board to propel us forward.”  Yes, as I reflect on the past four years I see a lot of mistakes, but I am committed to learning from them and allowing God to use these experiences to make me an even better leader today and tomorrow.

There are times when looking at the past is actually the best cure for discouragement.  In the Bible, God uses a murderer with a speech impediment, Moses, to lead God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.  In the story of Balaam, God uses a talking donkey to further His agenda.  In the story of King David, God uses an adulterer, liar and murderer to bring redemption to all people, through Jesus Christ.  God uses thieves, prostitutes, murderers, and many others for His Kingdom.  If God can use all these and their mistakes, there is hope for me.

I would like to leave you with a simple thank you.  Thank you for taking the chance on a guy that really didn’t deserve the opportunity given to him.  Thank you for your grace and patience over the past four years.  Thank you for all the support and encouragement that you’ve given to me and my family.  But most of all, thank you for all you’ve taught me over the past four years on what it means to Love God and Love Others.

The past four years have been some of the best experiences in my life!  I can’t wait to see what the next four, or ten, or even twenty-five years together will bring.

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