Several friends have emailed me recently about my station in life and what my plans are for the future. Those who know me well know my health is fair for a 78 year old and that I’m finding it hard to sit on planes for very long (I’ve only been on a plane three times this year). So I thought I would update everyone where I am in life and the most important thing I’ve learned during these 78 years.

There are five things that matter most in my life. Here they are in order of importance:

  • Jesus Christ
  • My daughter (My wife would be in this second position if she were still alive.)
  • My country
  • My two partners
  • My dog
  • Oh, I guess if I were honest, my golf game. So I guess there are six.

Of course, everything else pales in comparison to Jesus Christ. He has been my rock since I was 16½. I am what I am because of Him. And what I’m not, he is always challenging me to become. With my start in life I would shudder to think what might have been my fate if we had not met that awesome day on the Hancock Golf Course in Austin, Texas. If you haven’t given your life to Christ, I pray that someday you will. There is nothing else like it to be found in this world of ours. It is the one thing that makes sense of everything else.

My wife was the human stability factor in my life. She had common sense and an abundance of confidence in my abilities, both of which I needed to leave the comfort of a large church and take on the uncertainty of consulting. She was Jesus’ human counter part. Funny how God always gives you what you need to follow His call. Every person should be so blessed to have such a spouse.

And what can I say about a daughter who never gave us a moment of trouble, who makes me proud of what she’s become, and to top it all off, never came back home to live or ask for a dime. I guess she got that from her mother.

My country. What a blessed place to live. Nothing else like it in the world. Sure, it has its problems, but none of them compare to what other countries go through. Still, I worry about it. It’s not what she used to be. It’s harder for the little person to achieve their dream. Divisions are rampant. What really bothers me is how the left and right are tearing it and each other apart. Free speech is now being threatened. Our colleges and universities, once bastions of debate, now don’t allow speakers with whom they have political differences. Washington can’t get anything done. Our debt is spiraling out of control. And the worse part – no one in Washington seems to give a damn. It’s like someone slipped them a permanent Micky.

I have one word for both sides of the isle – Romans 13:1–14

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed.”

It’s time you folks learned to work together or I hope all of you get kicked out next year. You’re a disgrace – both sides. This great country is more important than any of your differences.

My partners. Last January my partners and I made the decision that I would stop traveling and that means stop consulting. Instead I would focus my time on coaching. This change allows me to stay home and not endure the nightmare of travel. At 78 I think this was a good decision. But this decision means that the consulting ministry shifts to Bill Tenny-Brittian and Scott Musselman. Both of these guys are more than capable of carrying the load and continuing the work I started in 1987. I’m counting of them to carry forward the ministry of The Effective Church Group (formerly 21st Century Strategies and Easum, Bandy, & Associates). Bill Tenny-Brittian was one of the first church planters I invested in during the 1990s. Scott Musselman has been mentored for several years by Bill T-B. It’s a privilege to be part of their ministries over the years.

And then there is my dog, Dorie. What a delight. Since the death of my wife, Jan, and my other dog, Vicki, Dorie and I have become quite close. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been this close to a dog. I know that sound corny, but it’s fact. What I’ve learned about her in the 18 months it’s just been the two of us is that she is probably the smartest dog I’ve even known. I’ve discovered that if I work with her she learns to respond to a new word every week.

And what about my golf game. I’m enjoying it so much it’s hard to believe I gave it up for 43 years. I walked in the house one day and told Jan, “I’m quitting golf.” And I did. Just like two years ago when I told my daughter “I’m quitting fishing.” A few months later I took up golf again and I’ve had a ball.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook you know I had two goals when I restarted playing golf – to shoot my age and to break par again. In less than a year I’ve accomplished both. I’ve always been a fan of goal setting. The highlight of my life now is Monday and Thursday when I play in a small tournament every week with a group of new friends. My biggest golf regret is I can’t hit the ball nearly as far as I used to, even with the new more powerful clubs.

Now in case you’re wondering, there is a common thread running through these diatribes – relationships. Whether it’s Jesus, spouse, sibling, country, partners, or dog relationships are the most important factor in one’s life. Strange how relationships, from Jesus to a dog, can be so important, but they are. Relationships define who we are, because no one is an island. None of us reach our potential on our own. All of us are indebted to someone.

And the same thing goes to growing a church or spreading the Kingdom. Both are done by nurturing relationships. Church leaders can no longer wait behind the sanctity of the four sacred walls hoping that new people will walk through the doors, because they won’t. They don’t trust us because we have walled ourselves off from the world. What we need to do if we are to grow our churches and the Kingdom is get out from behind the four walls and do ministry in the community because that is where relationships are formed and without relationships with the unchurched your church will die and the Kingdom was be the worse for it.

So I want to thank all of you who have been such an important part of my life. You’ve made it rich beyond measure. And Jesus tops it all off. He’s the gel that pulls it all together. So I trust as we go forward I hope you continue to reach out to form new relationships as well as continue to enrich my life as I become an old fart. I still have a few goals I will need help with just as the world does. So don’t go far. I’ll update you on those goals soon. And i know if you’re listening, the world will keep you informed as well.