December Newsletter Article

December 2, 2017

Here’s The Thing

I’m about to share the most personally significant piece of news I’ve ever provided for a newsletter article. This is the time of the year churches and pastors are to inform the Bishop of their wishes for the  next appointment year, and I’ve made a large decision. I’ve decided to retire. I’m guessing this may come as a surprise to many of you, and I’m sorry to initiate change when things seem to be going well, but I’ve got to follow the instruction of my heart.

Now the truth is that I’ve had a great sense of satisfaction with my work here, and your hospitality has been exceptional. From the very beginning of my time here I’ve been telling my friends and peers that this is the most well-functioning church I’ve ever served. I have no complaint about what you’ve expected me to do, and I feel very well appreciated, but I’ve simply run out of gas. It isn’t the three years I’ve spent here that has left me feeling weary of the work – it’s the three decades that have caught up with me. I know there are preachers who find ways to remain vital and vibrant for more than 31 years, but I’m not one of those. I’m ready for a change, and I’m grateful that retirement is an option for me.

Many of you know that our daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter will be moving back to Little Rock next summer, and we’re excited about being able to live close to them, but that’s more of a happy coincidence than the primary factor in my decision. I’m retiring because I’ve lost a degree of passion for the work that this job requires a person to have. It’s not that I’ve lost my love for Jesus, for you, or for the success of the UMC, but passion can be defined as creative energy, and that’s what’s running short within me. Leading worship and guiding the program of a church requires a level of focus, desire, and energy that I simply no longer possess. Preaching isn’t much like being a linebacker in the NFL, but in both cases you need to get off the field when you aren’t all in, and frankly speaking, I’m not. There are aspects of this work that I could do forever, but I no longer have the kind of fire in my belly that church leadership in this day and age requires.

So as of June 30, Sharla and I will be moving back to Little Rock where I will embark on life outside of appointed ministry, and a new pastor will be appointed here. I’m not finished yet – I’ve got a good seven months of energy left within me and a significant list of things I hope to accomplish before I pass the baton. At that point I will become your former pastor, but I hope you will keep me on as a friend. I really am sorry for creating the kind of uncertainty that comes with pastoral change, but I’m trusting that this can be a good thing for everyone involved. I hope you can feel this way as well.




2 Responses to “December Newsletter Article”

  1. Earl Says:

    Thompson, I sure our Lord is pleased with your ministry and we have had the feeling that we were with our Lord in every service. Happy trails to you and yours.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Thompson: Your letter reflects what I so respect about you. It is thoughtful, caring towards all concerned and deeply honest. I believe calling continues beyond career, just as it precedes it.

    I look forward to your return to TMSG. Maybe by then I will have returned. too. I have left UAMS, but I am still active in clinical chaplaincy.

    Blessings, my friend,

    Bill Briant

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