Today I turn 40.  In the past, I would have never even mentioned that it was my birthday, but in the age of social media, now everyone and their brother knows it’s your birthday, and you don’t have an option to keep that quiet.

For an introvert like myself, I’m not crazy about birthdays.  Not because it means another year older, or that I hit some kind of magical age.  But rather because birthdays are the antithesis of what introverts like.  While I appreciate so many people wishing me a happy birthday, it puts me right in the spotlight of attention.

At any rate, I wanted to take this opportunity to offer some reflections on life.

#1 – things didn’t turn out the way I thought they would.  I now know that things never turn out the way you think they will.  I’m better for that – following a path that I am better suited for that I could have possibly imagined.  And yet, I continue to have plans and expectations and I know full well, they may not be met – and that’s ok.

#2 – Competent leadership is one of the most essential things there is.  When I look around at organizations, I can tell an awful lot based on who is at the helm.  Organizations don’t just run on their own.  Someone has to be in charge.  And their character will have a huge imprint on the organization.  This is true for organizations and for our own individual lives too.

#3 – Christianity is far different than I thought it was.  When I look back at my faith when I was 20 versus now, I can see so many changes.  Going to seminary helps to learn the theology.  But living helps me appreciate the living theology – how theology gets played out by people.  My job as a future pastor isn’t to change people’s lives.  Only God can do that.  My job is to proclaim God’s message as it is revealed, to walk with people who are open to hearing the message, to struggle with them, to encourage them and if they want to progress and I’m the right person for this – to lead them.  It also means the same for me.

#4 – Reading has become more valuable to me over time.  I am more selective with what I read and I don’t regret putting a book aside if I really don’t like it – time is a precious commodity, not to be wasted with crappy books and ideas.

#5 – Questions, like reading, have become very important to me.  I have learned that the answers are overrated.  And that’s not what life is about anyway.  Life is about asking questions, to see and explore possibilities, to take risks.

#6 – Politics is about power and it always has been.  Along with this is the notion that there never was a mythical time in which everyone got along politically.  There are always at least two factions vying for power, telling themselves that they are the enlightened one and their opponents are evil and wrong and dangerous and have to be defeated.  And the same thing happens throughout history – the people in power change, but those new people become the exact same thing that they despised in others.

#7 – Physical activity changes.  It has to as your body changes and ages.  Right now I’m sitting with a cold that is pounding my head like a sledgehammer and a pulled hamstring.  Nature is reminding me that I don’t heal quite as fast as I used to.  It’s not bad, it’s just different.  Learning different things means being open to change.  Sometimes it will work out great and other times you’ll pull a hamstring.

#8 – Thank God I learned awhile ago that I am who I am, rather than trying to be someone else.  That’s one of the best gifts I ever gave to myself.