Recently, I had the thrill of reconnecting with John Baxter. Some may remember the Baxter family—none can forget Ann’s cooking! They are fine people and their leaving for Virginia was a deep loss to our church community. However, as is often the case, our loss is another’s gain. John has now accepted a position as the Executive Director of Children and Student Ministries at a church in the Kansas City metro area.
I am quite sure he will excel in this new role, but the move comes as a surprise, especially for John. For more than a decade, he has worked to accomplish his goal of administrating a private school campus. However, the new position suited his gifting, and it aligned with his calling to serve young people, so he made the leap. This is how John describes how his decision was made:
In this recent, unexpected turn of my career, I was faced with a choice. The options were simple: continue following the route I had chosen or follow the new route God was providing. A quick look in my rearview provided an encouraging scene. I saw the people and circumstances God had used to make this opportunity available. Looking further, I was able to locate a time on the road at Fellowship Jackson where I encountered Godly leaders taking abrupt turns to leave all they knew and serve on foreign mission fields or planting churches far from home. As I surveyed the long road behind, it revealed a God that had never let me down, as well as a few rocky roads I discovered as I ventured off His route. The choice was clear.
The leadership exposure that John refers to was during his time in our Leadership Forum. It was an initiative to coach young leaders to help them sharpen their skills. John told me recently that the lessons learned through the leaders he met still serve him well, and he often returns to his moleskine notebook to reflect on the leadership ‘nuggets’ that he learned.
The leaders he speaks of consider themselves to be quite ordinary, but their wake is quite remarkable. Their willingness to share their lives with John has impacted and shaped his life and, in part, contributed to him changing careers. Herein is the power of Christian community. When we are willing to live our lives with others, we become the means by which God grows his people. Yes, community costs us something, but as John’s story demonstrates, the benefits are well worth the expense.