I couldn't do anything else...
I became a pastor in 1978, eventually serving three churches. I love being a shepherd. Not every minute, by any means, but I’ve never lost the sense of wonder that God called me. I cannot imagine a more cutting edge calling, nor work that matters more. I’m amazed that I have gotten to open the treasury of Scripture to preach more than 2300 times! I always marveled to say, “I pronounce you husband and wife,” and to say or sing at the end of countless services gifts like, “The Lord bless you and keep you….” I learned my way around hospitals and have been entrusted with funerals. I’ve helped parents dedicate their little ones to Jesus. I’ve been a shepherd of God’s flock.
That said, there’ve been a few times I just wanted to quit and sell shoes. In the ‘80s I nearly folded under the pressure to be visionary and strategic. I was embarrassed sometimes that our church wasn’t getting bigger. I saw a counselor for a few months after an elder told me, “Lee, you’re depressed and you’re angry and you need to do something about it.”
But while I haven’t exactly finished the course yet, I am retired; or semi-retired. My wife, Susan, and I live in Rockford, Illinois. I preach whenever I get the opportunity and I especially focus on encouraging pastors through friendships, writing, and pastors’ gatherings.
Over the years, somehow or another, I became a writer. I’ve written over 50 articles for PreachingToday.com, Leadership Journal, and CTPastors (all part of Christianity Today, Inc.). PreachingToday.com published over 60 of my sermons in print and/or audio and more than 200 sermon illustrations. Through NextStep Resources, I compiled and edited the Pastor’s Service Manual giving pastors the “apt word” they need for weddings, funerals, baptisms, benedictions, and many other functions.
At the invitation of Moody Publishers, I wrote Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (2012), which won Leadership Journal’s “Best of the Best award that year in the category, “The Leader’s Inner Life.” That book allowed me to put into words my great love for the work of shepherding.
Five years later I wrote a book focused on the environment necessary to a healthy church: Feels Like Home: How Rediscovering the Church as Family Changes Everything (Moody Publishers, 2017).
I began writing a free, weekly letter aimed at encouraging pastors for PreachingToday.com in 2020. Two collections of 52 letters, Shepherding the Shepherd, Vol. 1 & 2 have been published by Christianity Today.
For about 20 years I taught pastoral counseling at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Those lectures were video-recorded by Trinity Video Seminary, based in Kursk, Russia, and are available in English, Russian and other languages for free on YouTube.