Saying goodbye to someone is never easy, especially when it's someone that has had an huge impact on your life. The same can be said for my pastor in Beebe, whose leaving for his next appointment in Mount Ida, Arkansas. Emotions filled inside me when I first heard that he was leaving, but its the nature of the profession of being pastor; you're subject to possibly move at any given moment.
This past Sunday was his last at Beebe First United Methodist Church, and it's hard for me to explain what he has meant in my walk with Christ and what he has meant to my family. You would think it would be easy to tell him what he's meant to me and my life, but it's hard. That's the purpose of this letter, to let him know just what exactly he's meant to my life.
I'm sure that if you're reading this, you have been in my shoes. If you haven't experienced this feeling yet, it's going to happen ... #Life ... Regardless if you have been in my situation or not, I feel that anyone could relate to this letter. So with that in mind, cue the Jimmy Fallon Thank Note Writing Music.
An Open Letter To My Pastor
I can't believe that the day has come where you have said "Amen" for the last time at Beebe FUMC, locked your office door, and drove out of the church parking lot for the last time. It's a day I never wanted to happen, for selfish reasons. But I am sure that so many people stand on the same level that I do.
I just want to thank you for your service with Beebe FUMC. What you have meant to this church, it's congregation, and this community is undeniable. Your impact was seen immediately and your impact with continue to be seen in the weeks and years to come, even after your departure. You did things at Beebe FUMC that could never be done with past pastors, like building The Haven for the youth group. That's something that the church has been wishing for years, and thanks you and God's grace and timing, it happened.
Most of all, I want to thank you for everything you have done for me and my family. Growing up in a church family, I always thought I knew what being a Christian was all about. I thought I had everything in the palm of my hand and was practically untouchable for that reason. During junior high and the beginning of high school, I drifted away from God and wasn't in the best place spiritually. You're the biggest reason that I joined the youth group during my senior year of high school, and that decision was one that I regret not making that decision sooner. Getting involved and gaining a father-son like relationship with you was a dream in itself, and I give thanks to God for it each and every day. Never did I think that a pastor would become of my closest friends and mentors. From the talks we had, whether it was about our faith or about what's new in the world of sports and music, our bond grew stronger and my walk with Christ grew stronger because of that. I feel that I am in a better place, spiritually, than I have ever been, and I can honest accredit all of that to you.
When I first about your departure from Beebe to Mount Ida, I thought this would be more of a goodbye in the sense that I wouldn't see you again. I know now that this isn't a goodbye, this is a see you later. God has called you to serve in a church and community that longs for a strong leader like yourself. Also, I look at your departure as a way of testing where my faith really is with Christ. I know that you will forever have my back in any situation, but this time around you will have my back via a phone call or a text message. I can't come to your office anymore. It's up to me to strive for greatness and use all of the traits and wisdom that you have taught for all these years. Like I said, this isn't a goodbye. It's a see you later.
So with all of that said, Russell... Thank you. Thank you for everything. For every church you have come to, you have left that church standing as high and well as any previous pastor has. The same can be said for Mount Ida. Your next church is getting a gem of a pastor, and I can't wait to see what God has planned for you, your family, and your new church family. I pray that you find peace in this move and God's blessing be on your family during this transition.
Thanks for everything.
Much love and God Bless,
Matt Jenkins ... AKA, Mattress