Thank You for Teaching Me These 13 Things (Special Thanksgiving Article)

Happy Thanksgiving…8 days early! This year, I’m thankful for you church planter/pastor. For more than 16 years I’ve had the joy and privilege of working with countless churches, church plants, and church planters. I’ve learned a ton. One thing I’ve learned is how seldom you hear thank you for all you do. So I wanted to thank you 13 times over. Here’s what you’ve taught me.

Thank You #1

Thank you for teaching me humility. Humility is hard to come by. We like it when others have it towards us, but we can forget to start with ourselves first. I’m thankful for the humility you’ve expressed to me over and over again throughout the years. In so doing, you show me Philippians 2 Jesus. That is a rare treasure.

Thank You #2

Thank you for showing me how to pursue a personal passion and calling. Following your calling can be lonely. So often others don’t get it and don’t understand it. They observe and idle, waiting to see outcomes before they’re convinced. Not you. You remind me of Jesus—the way you trust the Father in the face of unpredictable outcomes.

Thank You #3

Thank you for teaching me you can do a LOT with a LITTLE. You know what church planters have a LOT of?…a little. No extravagant budgets. No large staff teams. No killer facilities. But time and again you do a lot with so little. Thank you for testifying to the power of faith—the kind of mustard seed faith Jesus speaks of.

Thank You #4

Thank you for the freedom of “Know Thyself.” The hard knocks of church planting put a major squeeze on your character. You learn who you are, and who you aren’t fast. You’ve shown me the beauty of owning who you are—your strengths and weaknesses. There is great freedom in knowing Jesus is all in all, not me. I’m free to get some help from others gifted in different ways than me. Thank you.

Thank You #5

Thank you for expressing creative creativity. You find so many creative ways to do creative things. I know you may not think of yourself as a creative in the traditional sense of the word. But you guys do some creative things with creativity. You are like a Problem trying to corner Jello. You find a way through. Jesus was anything but predictable. And so are you. Thanks.

Thank You #6

Thank you for putting others first. You serve others with passion and energy. You don’t get paid ‘per person you serve.’ But that might be nice. You don’t serve in order to gain like a business might do. You serve because you’ve been served. You provide for the needs of others because the Father meets your needs in Jesus. Thanks for always pointing me back to my calling to serve others in all my work.

Thank You #7 (We’re only halfway. Yeah!!!)

Thank you for bringin’ it to give people Good News. You work hard to bring people good news. In a world spewing out bad news on our phones, computer screens, TVs, and headphones you herald good news. You fling it around like it’s the greatest thing in the world…because it is. You remind me to work hard to bring gospel-flavored good news to every client I work with. My work should remove burdens and make a way forward for my clients. They should receive and experience good news when they work with me. They have you to thank for that.

Thank You #8

Thank you for helping me think about the Gospel & Culture. No one on the planet wrestles with how the gospel intersects with culture more than you. To be fair, as Prof. Howard Hendricks used to tell us, “And gentlemen…there’s not much competition.” But this makes it all the more important and encouraging to me. Gospel & culture is not a popular topic. It’s not on anyone else’s radar. But it is massively important. Thank you for always pushing me to consider how I can bring the gospel to bear on a culture in need of truth and beauty.

Thank You #9

Thank you for leading by serving. It’s easy for me to get sucked into the trap of succeeding through power and dominance. I’m in a competitive market. I’m a solopreneur. Dominate or be dominated. But you remind me of the upside down kingdom. Lead by serving. It’s a better way. It’s the way Jesus ‘succeeded’ in his mission of redeeming you and me. While it may be hard to find ‘out there’, it is easy to spot in you. Thank you.

Thank You #10

Thank you for embodying the mantra Don’t Give Up. Instant gratification is an epidemic. Wait? Gurl, please! If Siri can’t spit out my answer in 3 seconds I’m ready to launch my iPhone across the room. You are a farmer planting and sowing gospel seeds. It’s slow going. But you press forward. You hit constant setbacks. But you don’t give up. Your vision carries you beyond the now. You see with the eyes of faith like Jesus. Thanks for teaching me NOT to give up.

Thank You #11

Thank you for embracing adventure and the unknown. Yes, the capital “C” church will not fail…but that doesn’t mean your lowercase “c” church won’t. But there you are swan diving off into the deep end while bear-hugging your family with a big grin on your face. Your story speaks volumes. Live a little. Chase what matters.  _You head off into the unknown because of _Who you know. Thanks for calling me to adventure, even if I’m kicking and screaming with my eyes closed.

Thank You #12

Thank you for reassuring me my Work is NOT my Identity. You church planters with your gospel. You’re always talking about ‘identity, identity, identity’. Your being not doing gibberish is nauseating. You beat it like a cowbell. But here’s the thing. I got a fever. And the only prescription is more cowbell. Thank you for banging the gospel cowbell. I am a child of the King. Period.

Thank You #13

Thank you most of all for reminding me there is a Savior…and it’s NOT me. In my business, I have the luxury of some objective, measurable growth. Do I have more clients than this time last year? Do I have better clients? Has my revenue increased? Etc. I can be fooled into thinking my input is what drives my outcomes. I am the Savior of my business. I am the Savior of my clients and their outcomes. I am the only one who can help them. They’ll go to marketing, messaging, or branding hell without me. Thankfully you’re there to point me to the only Savior. His name rhymes with ‘bee-guss’, not ‘paw-pee’ (FYI my name is ‘Robby’ in case we haven’t met).

Thank You #14 (Wait, you said there were 13)

I know. I said there were 13. This is a bonus thank you because  Jesus always does more than we ask or imagine. Thank you for living a life of honesty and transparency. You keep showing me the cross has already spoken the worse things about me. I am that bad off. That desperate. There was no other solution to the problem I caused. Therefore, I can be honest. I am never going to say anything worse about myself than the cross has already spoken over me in love. So in honor of your honesty, can I be honest for a second? (If your answer is ‘no’, then you’d stop reading now.) Even while writing this article to say thank you, I still battled the devil of selfish gain and influence. I’ve had these thoughts running through my Enneagram 5 mind. What if this article takes off? What if it gets shared around the world of church planting? This could be the launchpad to a bigger platform. Sick. I know. But you can relate. I mean, you do preach almost every Sunday. You’ve wrestled with similar demons I’m sure. I know, because you’ve been honest about them.

Together let’s say thank you to Jesus. He is the true Author of all 14 thank you’s listed above. He is alive in you. He is using you. His Spirit is bearing fruit. He is using the weak to lead the strong. He has done great things and He has much more to accomplish in you.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week. Thank you for the work you’re doing. It really matters.

PS Please, please, please consider sharing this with another church planter you know. NOT because I want to grow my email list. I want to see the King spread his kingdom. I want to see church planters encouraged in their calling. I want them to hear heaven say thank you in the midst of the fight.

PSS At the beginning of this post, I mentioned how rare it is for church planters to hear thank you. For fun, I thought about creating another email list. You opt-in to receive this same email every week ;-). I bet it would be a popular list with zero unsubscribes.


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