-While three of our six kids are still living at home, the youngest is now 14(!) and they are definitely in various stages of growing independence. An empty nest is still a few years down the road, but it is something my wife and I are aware may be coming, and we've begun talking about some of the changes that we might like to see take place.
-With just three kids, the daily stress levels in the house are not too bad, and it appears they are going to have relatively calm seperation processes.
-My wife is emotionally and spiritually healthy and stable. She has been working full time for three years, and is hoping to continue and retire with 20 years of service. She is involved in several areas of ministry at various levels. She frequently substitute teaches for a Ladies Sunday School class, she is actively involved in a small group, she leads a bible study at work, as well as ministry in a variety of casual relationships.
-Our combined incomes have put us in the best financial situation we have known as a couple. I have 23 years at my job, and will hit 30, and potential retirement, a few years after we expect the children to be moved out, or nearing the end of college. The concept of retirement, what it means for me, has been on my mind quite a bit.
For many years it seemed my life was a continuing series of crises. There was frequently one thing after another that had to be dealt with, usually to the exclusion of the everyday. This summer there came a gradual awareness that I am not in that situation any longer. My life has become much more stable (if you don't know me well, you may not understand some of what I'm refering to- trust me, there have been some significant changes), and I am wondering what God's intent is in this.
I had some time to consider all this, and what it means to me- what I would like to see. This is a summary of what came to mind-
As long as I have been aware of a desire to minister, essentially from the time I started consciously walking with God, about age 19, that desire has been toward the Body- to encourage, teach, exhort, build up. I have made various attempts to pursue that goal- involvement with a young adult group, a short time at Moody Bible Inst., involvement with various small groups, an internship at a recovery ministry, and helping establish and lead a recovery ministry- and when I am still, and consider what God has put on my heart, that is still the thing I come back to. Sharing the truths of the full Gospel, and helping my brothers and sisters come to understand and live in the truth of who God has made them to be is one of, if not the, greatest joy in my life.
I have clearly heard God say "Wait" in the past, and I am not opposed to that possibility (in fact, not hearing that may be more un-nerving). I would love to have some level of training, because I have always struggled with feeling inadequate in a ministry position. And I'm not even sure that using the term 'position' is appropriate, because I don't know that God wants me in a 'position' of any type. I do feel strongly that it is time to start looking to something different, and I know where the desire of my heart directs, in general.
My wife has encouraged me to go back to school. I have a little over half the credit hours I need for an AA degree, including all but two of my core classes. I need about nine classes to complete the course work, mostly electives. This seems like it might be a good place to start- I don't believe God requires a formal education, but it might lead to more options later on.