Thoughts on my 40th birthday

I turn 40 today.

That means, 40 years ago I was doing this. I’m the one in the diaper.

My original birthday

My 30’s have evaporated in a fog and now they’re gone. I remember being a kid and having my parents’ friends over at my house for someone’s 40th birthday party. Black balloons. Over-the-hill hats. “That seems like a lifetime away,” I thought to myself. No, only about 30 years away, as it turns out.

As I saw this day approaching, like watching a ominous clouds hovering in a dark sky, I thought I’d be curled up into a ball and spending the day binging on junk food, watching Meryl Streep movies, and crying myself to sleep. So far, that hasn’t happened, but I did enjoy watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on Netflix yesterday.

Strangely, I feel great. Better than I would have thought I would feel, now that I’ve been breathing air for four decades. I do still have bouts of depression from time to time, but God has blessed me immeasurably. My wife, Laura, and I have been married for 15 years. We have four beautiful children together, and I love being the lead pastor of Christ the King Church. There’s much to be thankful for.

My four kids (and one of our neighbors who hangs out with us all the time)

I suppose each decade of my life has a theme. I spent my 20’s trying to figure out who I was and the sort of person I wanted to be. I worked at a bunch of different jobs, clawed my way out of debt, married up to the most amazing woman, and decided to go into ministry.

In my 30’s I settled into a few distinct roles and focused on them. I became a father for the first time at age 30. I went to seminary, worked in college ministry, helped plant Fellowship Church in Louisville, and moved to Cincinnati at the age of 34 to start Christ the King Church. I’ve now settled into the work that I expect I’ll spend the rest of my life doing: being a missionary to Cincinnati by planting more churches in this city.

William Borden was a dedicated Christian missionary to China. After he died, these words were discovered written into the back of his Bible: “No reserve. No retreat. No regrets.”

If there’s a particular theme I’d like to have for my 40’s, I’d take it from Micah 6:8: “do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [my] God.” I want to focus on the things that are most important, not necessarily the things that are most urgent. And I want to live it with all my might. I want to enjoy the people and the work God has given me and serve Him faithfully until the end.

I don’t feel old. But old is coming whether I want it to or not. So I want to make every day count.

I can’t help being pensive around such a milestone. Four decades of life on this earth. Blessings too numerous to count. I’m thankful to God, my wife, my children, the rest of my family, and my church for all the ways my life has been enriched by all of you. I am truly and deeply blessed.

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