Today marks my pastor and friend’s last day as lead pastor at our church after 18 years of faithful leadership. I have been blessed in my life to have some wonderful, godly pastors, who have taught me so much by both word and example, who have encouraged and challenged me, who have invited me into their homes and hearts, but today I want to share with all of you the Top 10 (cause there’s a whole lot more) golden nuggets I think of when I reflect on the gift of Pastor Leif Holmes to the Church and to me personally.
1. The fruit of the spirit evident in my life is more important than the gifts demonstrated through me. Am I loving, joyful, peaceful, patient (uh oh), kind, good, faithful, gentle & self-controlled? God always cares about my character more than my performance.
2. He thought outside of his own demographic (the one I’m speaking of being, married and male) to ask me about what it was like being single and female in the church. Then he listened and cared about what I said. That genuine interest in my feelings and perspective on this issue was both new and immeasurable to me.
3. It’s ok to not be ok. Like, how freeing is that? Freedom to be real and not have to have it all together. He reinforced what I know to be true but don’t always see in the church or myself. Being right with God is much more important than looking right.
4. If you really care about someone, you hold them accountable when they’re off course. Difficult conversations are not enjoyable but they are necessary. A true leader is willing to have them because they care about their sheep more than their popularity. I have seen him consistently and yes, with myself a time or two, willing to have a tough talk because he cares more about my well-being than whether or not he’s my favorite in the moment.
5. We are never done learning. Pastor Leif has had me read more books over the years than any other supervisor, teacher or professor in my entire life. He is a learner and wants others to learn and be equipped as well. If you want to keep growing, you keep learning.
6. You have to know the word to use the word. Picking up your sword to fight when under attack is much easier when the blade is sharp and you know what you’re fighting with. You have to input it before you can have any output.
7. The true test of whether or not you love God is your obedience to Him. He doesn’t ask you to figure it out, He asks you to be obedient.
8. God’s definition of what is good for me is usually not mine. Ain’t that the truth!
9. God’s agenda is not for you to be happy and comfortable. It’s for you to be godly. Didn’t so much care for this one when it was said, but it’s the truth!
10. And when you told me, “Denise, God chooses to use you because of your weaknesses not in spite of them.” Well, that has been a game changer my friend.
Pastor Leif, you are not to heaven yet, and I hope that day is a good many years off for both of us, but I do believe that God’s heart is in agreement with mine in saying “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Thanks for all the golden nuggets and for being an authentic, imperfect, slightly goofy, often entertaining, dedicated, encouraging, supportive, humble and faithful leader. Here’s to the next adventure God has in store for each of us!!