Every now and again I need to take time to write a message of thanks for the wonderful people of Central Baptist Church. They have allowed me to be the pastor here for over 12 years 1, and I’m humbled to have been welcomed as I have been.
This Christmas Eve I had to suffer through the dreaded, “And we wanted to say thanks to Wes and [Insert wife’s name here] 2 for all they do for us” moment. I keep “forgetting” to make an appropriate space for that every year, just because it makes me feel so uncomfortable but darn it if people don’t keep finding a way to put it in.
I understand how folks need to express the sentiment, so I don’t balk at it. But “spotlight on Wes” moments make me all sorts of uncomfortable. I think this was why I was a passable actor, I needed to lose myself in the character to avoid running from stage in fear. It might also be a contributing factor for why I’m a passable preacher, my mind loses itself in the content of the message, otherwise I’d probably be in the back of the sanctuary crying. The moment content or character gets stripped away and “Wes” is in the spotlight, though, I can feel the eyes on me and I just want to crawl out of my skin 3.
I truly don’t begrudge the moment, and I grateful people want to express their gratitude to both myself and my wife 4. This year, however, was a bit different. After having a calendar year in which so many terrific things happened at Central I was able to take a moment to say “thanks” right back.
After worship I received many embraces from the folks at Central, and well-wishes which touched me deeply. Two common ones were,
- “Thanks for everything you do.” 5
- “We really are glad you are hear”
But by far the most touching was when one member took me aside and said, simply, “Thanks for being a friend, I think that’s the most important thing.”
And so, to a wonderful and thoughtful people I say, “Merry Christmas, keep shining the light.”
- Mother’s Day 2016 will mark the end of my 13th year as pastor here. ↩
- The name is hidden to protect the innocent. ↩
- Small talk at parties has the same effect on me. ↩
- For some reason, the envelope is always passed to her, though. ↩
- I do kinda feel odd about this, I don’t do all the much. In fact, my greatest pastoral skill may be able to get out of people’s way. ↩