I haven’t really written anything personal in a while (other than some devotional encouragements taken from our church bulletin) and so I thought I would start with some updates and give some insight on the year ahead. Most of my friends (whether internet-based or in real life) know that 2011 wasn’t the best year for me; as a matter of fact to say that it was difficult is definitely an understatement. Early in the summer I filed for divorce and in November it was final. While this was a bitter sweet ending to an 18-year marriage, it has taught me a lot about myself and the kind of man that I want to be not only for my children, but for the Lord. This time has taught me more about where my focus should be, which is serving God, 100% of the time.
I want to say that the divorce was the only negative thing of the year, but as a Baptist pastor this also caused many difficulties within the church. I thought we had moved past these difficulties as a congregation (there was even a vote to keep me on staff in which we lost 2 families who disagreed), church is what it is and I handed in my letter of resignation on Friday, January 6, 2012. Here is a portion of my resignation letter that I will share for clarification of what I told the deacons when I met with them:
Over the past 5 months our church has experienced several difficult times that only through the Lord’s guidance have we come through it. However, I have received confirmation that there are several who seek to continually tear me down, discredit me, and have desired to inject their own ideals into “how they want the church run”, which goes against the Biblical principles directed by the Apostles in Acts 2:42-47. Therefore, after much prayer and due to the increased level of gossip (reference 1 Timothy 5:12–13), strife (reference James 3:16), and lack of respect for the work of the ministry (reference 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) occurring at County Line Baptist Church, I feel that the Lord has told me with complete peace to resign as Pastor, effective immediately. I feel it is important for you to know that I depart with no ill feelings, nor anger, nor animosity in my heart. I am always available to anyone, at any time, who may wish to discuss this decision with me; or who may need spiritual help or assistance in any manner.
There was more included in the letter, but for now I will only say that this letter took me several days to write, and was one of the most painful and soul-searching documents I ever had to compose and pass onto men that I respected and trusted at the church. (OK, enough of that.)
On a professional level, I have changed jobs and am now working for one of the most comfortable and personable companies I have ever come in contact with. These folks are committed to not just the bottom line; but ensuring its employees are treated like family and this has been a welcome breath of fresh air for me. I think I have found the job I want to do for the next 20 years, and could definitely see myself planting roots and striving to help grow this company.
So, “What’s next?” might be the logical question anyone would ask. In short, I am leaning on the Lord and asking where to take the next step in the ministry. I have been in discussions with several here (as well as many mentors of mine) regarding starting a church locally and while I believe the Lord is prodding me in this direction I am not rushing into anything to ensure that it is for Him that things are done. I am reminded of a quote I heard years ago which was, “Just because a Christian does something in God’s name, He is under no obligation to bless it if He is not the one doing the leading.” Honestly, that is great advice and something I constantly remind myself of.
Well, that is about it for now … I just thought I would provide an update as I have really missed blogging. God bless you and thank you for reading. It is the prayer of my heart that your 2012 is a year that draws you closer to the Lord, and brings you more rewards that are from Him than you could ever imagine.
Rev TJ Conwell
Philippians 1:6, “… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”