February 1, 2015 was a big day for me. It was my twentieth anniversary of being at Grace Family Church. When I started at this little church in a strip mall off Gunn highway with 125 people, I never knew all that God was going to do. It has been a true honor and joy serving with Pastor Craig and Debbie Altman. They are the best! I am blessed to serve with a staff, existing and those no longer with us, who want to make an impact for Christ and help people. I am humbled by our volunteers and leaders – who knew so much gifting and talent would take up the mantle of serving and do it with such love and compassion for others? Finally, to those who call GFC their home church, thank you!
I thought a lot about how to write the rest of this blog. I decided to go with the most basic lesson I learned in the last twenty years. Here it is – “You matter to God.” Sounds so simple. Yet, this lesson sums up everything I have learned in my time at Grace. I can’t say I believed this when I came down in 1995 from Orlando. I came with a whole different view of leadership. I remember the day Craig pulled me into his office and said, “You are doing a great job but I need you to do one thing…Change your face. You are so busy doing your tasks on the weekend, that people think you are angry. Slow down, smile and it will still get done.” Those words still come to mind when I get busy on a weekend.
I have found the joy recognizing the value of people. Everyone has value – whether you are the greatest person or the one who requires a lot of effort and work. I have learned the joy of coming alongside people and helping them in their journey with God. All of us are growing. When I see someone knocking it out of the park, I have learned to celebrate their wins. If someone has questions, I try to help them find answers. I love helping connect people with others who can help them grow. I am amazed by people pretty easily – so much gifting and talent out there. I grow so much by interacting people. (If you thought no one was watching, I was and I became a better husband, father and leader because of it.) I have spent time with some of the most brilliant, successful people in their fields and walked away empowered. I stood with tears rolling down my cheeks watching someone extend a loving hand to someone in need. I am so much more of a person because of the people that intersect with my life.
You matter to God…cool saying but a much deeper principle. To the twenty-seven year old pastor, with a beautiful wife and three kids under the age of seven, who left all their family back in Orlando, many years ago –you do…you truly matter to God and to us. Thank you!