OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust over one year ago, I took an opportunity of being cut loose from Corporate America to accept a call to ministry. At the time of acceptance and in the months that would follow, friends would call it a “perfect fit” and say I was “in my element.” After 6 months, it was over and I was back in the business world. I’m not an irrational jumper. I stick. I’m not a quitter. Before moving on to any new beginning, I properly evaluate (maybe even over-evaluate), dissect and learn from the other beginnings end.

Did I fail?

Did I let others down?

If the fit was so perfect, why only 6 months?

These are but a few questions I have asked myself as I’ve walked out a new beginning and another beginnings end. I’ve been asked if I would change anything. I’ve been asked if I would do it over again. I’m not a runner, but I try to run a little bit each week. Many of those runs are filled with questions, thoughts, and further evaluation. In order to properly close a chapter, there needs to be a silver lining.

You have to do everything you can

You have to work your hardest

and if you stay positive

You have a shot at a silver lining.

-Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Today and many of the days over the past few months, I have had a silver lining right in front of me. I’ll never be convicted for being the smartest guy in the room so it takes me some time to realize things. You see, when you are in ministry you invest in people and they invest in you. I’m not talking about dollars and gifts. I’m talking about lives, futures, journeys and struggles. While 6 months was a brief run in ministry, it was long enough to have the joy of connecting with several people. It was long enough to have those in a body lean on you. They trusted in me and my prayer is that I was able to invest in them. My silver lining is that today those investments continue.

They come in Facebook messages, texts, emails and phone conversations with those I am still walking with. No matter what I call my occupation, I am forever linked to these friends. I was never comfortable with the title of “Pastor” but I was comfortable with providing “Pastoral Care.” What I mean is that “Pastoral Care” means investing in friendships. Mourning when they mourn. Rejoicing when they rejoice. Putting wind in their sails when they have stalled. Celebrating as they cross the finish line of whatever journey they are on. Pastoral care doesn’t require working for a ministry or holding a title. It comes when we link arms with one another and love one another as Christ loved.

A few moments ago I hung up the phone from a conversation with just one of those I’m walking with. My friend called because he’s walking through a difficult and scary moment even as I type this. They are a couple I have come to love like they are family. He called me to pray for them. If you have a moment, pray for them too. Pray for Gods clear direction, grace and strength in this uncertainty.

When I hung up the phone, it was almost audible that these are the silver linings. Jobs come and go. Titles are titles. “Perfect fits” can be deceiving. What is most important is that in a short time, I am richer for lives that I get to have a small part in. My life is different because I am able to call others “friend” and share in their journeys (both spiritual and otherwise).

Thank you to each of you that have allowed me to be a part of your lives. Thank you for trusting me with your burdens and allowing me to celebrate with you as you rejoice. You are the ending to that other beginnings end.

You are worth so much to me.

You are my silver lining.