May 31, 2017
Today is my husband’s last day as the Forge Director at Pine Cove.
It closes out a chapter that is 12 years long.
To be exact, that’s 4,412 days that he’s given to the ministry of the Forge.
Almost 1/3 of his life.
In ministry, you’re on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means 105,888 hours that he has devoted to the mission of training up leaders for a lifetime of ministry.
12 years ago when we began this journey, we had no idea where it would go, what we were doing, or if it would even last longer than a year or two. We sat in a van with 12 students, driving them to their first destination and we looked at each other. Our eyes said, “What in the world are we doing? What do we do next?”
Over 275 students later, that chapter has come to a close and I can say this:
I’m proud of him. Exceedingly proud.
I didn’t know until this year, but one of the first things he says to his students on the very first night they arrive is, “Whatever we do, we will do together. And you can know that you will get all of me. You’ll get whatever I have to offer.”
And that… he has done. He has given all of himself to this ministry. Long days, late night phone calls and emergencies, triumphs and celebrations when his students succeeded, tough days when they failed or suffered or grieved together, thousands of miles on I-20, hundreds of miles hiked in Israel, hundreds of classes taught, over 800 office hours… hundreds of students’ lives directly influenced, and thousands of parents, mentors, mentees, relationships, marriages, children, families, ministries and businesses indirectly influenced by his investment with the Forge.
All that being said, there are two things that make me the most proud.
1. Matt leads people like Jesus did.
2. Matt leads people to Jesus.
Matt asks questions. He pours into others’ lives, but also teaches them to think and learn for themselves. He doesn’t spoon-feed every answer, he won’t let you be lazy when it comes to Scripture (or P2, or anything else, for that matter). He holds Scripture and the gospel in the very highest esteem; it’s the air he breathes and he never misses an opportunity to point people to it.
I’ll be the first to say that people are drawn to this; they are drawn to Matt because the way he teaches and invests in people is unlike anyone else I know. For a leader, this is a place of great temptation: to see your own appeal and start to think that you are the ultimate, that making disciples of yourself is worthwhile (and it makes you feel pretty good too). But the thing I am the most proud of in my husband, is that he has resisted this temptation over and over, and continually deflects attention from himself and returns people to the “Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.”
During Jesus’ ministry, people were drawn to Him, yet He continually directed His followers to the Father. I have watched as students and staff have been drawn to Matt, and he always directed them to Jesus. I know there are countless students who joined the Forge because Matt was there; I know most of them would say they learned from Matt, but what they learned from Matt was the most important thing: that the gospel of Jesus is above all else.
If, in 12 years, Matt has taught anyone anything, it is that.
And that, is 12 years well spent.
Well done. I love you.
Your partner in it,