I decided to write a book to answer a question that I am frequently asked, a question for which there is no short or simple answer.
Several years ago, I had the honor of being in a room with one of the most well known people in the world. I was with a group of Bishops who, like me, were humbled by the opportunity to meet this gentle, humble man. Interestingly, he broke every preconceived idea that we had about him. He was so much more than we expected.
He displayed an openness and willingness to be our friend. A friendship that is not based in theological debates or institutional alignments, but, rather, on a deep love and appreciation for each other. At the end of our time together we asked him if we could do anything for him. I will never forget his response. “Yes, let’s make a photo of each of you with me. And when you meet others, show them the picture and tell them we are friends.”
That photo hangs today in my office and in my home. But the one I like to share the most is the one that’s in my phone. Every time someone sees that photo they all ask the same question: “How did you get to meet Pope Francis?”
Hence, the purpose of my upcoming book.
My Dad was fond of saying, “If you want better answers, ask better questions.” The better question, the more significant question is: “How does a country boy from Kansas, (a pentecostal pastor from that Midwest state) become the Presiding Bishop of a Communion who at its heart longs for the unity of the body of Christ?”
I have spent that last eighteen months reflecting on that exact question. I realized that the Lord has always placed people in my life at just the right moment. Every time that I faced a challenge I would discover a new friend. Some of them have remained lifelong friends. Each of them have helped shape my life into what it is today. They have challenged my prejudices, shared my sufferings, and shaped my worldview. I am so grateful to each and everyone of them.
The common denominator in my life has been “friendships.” Friends who helped me to grow beyond the boundaries of my own childhood, my own spiritual tribe, and my own self imposed limitations. Friendship is the primary tool that God has used to development my faith and walk me through my life. Friendship challenged my individualism and my dependency on institutions. As I worked on this project I leaned heavily on the concepts of friendship and thus I had a working title about “Friendship.”
Everyone of us is on a journey that is beyond our wildest dreams. I want to encourage each of you to enjoy the ride. I also hope that I have addressed the question of “how does a country boy (a Pentecostal Pastor) from Kansas find himself as a Bishop?”
Forgive me, but I must take a short “rabbit trail” here.
I’ve been wanting an Old English Sheep dog for forty (that’s 40) years. Last week I finally went and picked her up, she is beautiful. The real challenge came in “naming” her. We have debated about it for the last three days. It has been gut wrenching. Thank God we finally got that resolved. As we went through this process I began to understand why the titling of this book was so emotional to me. I have waited and longed to do this for a long time, I value it a lot. OK… on with the story.
Several weeks ago I jumped onto a conference call with cover artists, editors and publishers who were discussing “my” book. Much to my amazement they were discussing the title of the book. They were playing with the name of my baby. For two hours we talked about words and what they would mean to the reader and how they would be perceived. Wow!
“So, how does a country boy from Kansas become the Presiding Bishop of a Communion?”
“Why…how again did you get to meet Pope Francis?”
The title got changed. My heart was overwhelmed.
I’m humbled to have the honor to share this story with you. And, I am both excited and apprehensive about the release of this new work. In it, I have attempted to be as transparent as possible.
I am also grateful for every one of the editors, artists, and publishers who helped me to find this story in my soul. I hope that you will look forward to reading:
ANCIENT FUTURE BISHOP….. (coming soon!)