Thank you, Jordan

Eric and Jordan in 2010.

As I come to the end of my time serving Grace Church of Simi Valley, I am profoundly thankful for the grace of God that has been poured out on me, often through the people I’ve been placed around. Particularly, I am grateful for the life and ministry of our pastor, Jordan Bakker. Paul wrote in Galatians that “Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches.” Maybe it’s an under-applied passage in Scripture, but it’s certainly a valuable one. This blog is my way of publicly thanking Jordan him for his faithfulness as well as reminding the church of the blessing of being under his leadership.

  1. Thank you for seeing potential in a young, idealist, college-age student who had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. You zeroed in on me, encouraged me, and gave me a taste for ministry that has fueled much of my life. I still have the email you wrote me in 2007 where you asked if I’d be interested in doing a summer internship. Rereading it reminded me of the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing then, and I particularly remember the joy of thinking, “Hey, he thinks that I might have something to offer!” Even though I had a lot of growing up to do, you focused on my strengths and challenged me to keep it up.
  2. Thank you for giving me John Piper’s book Desiring God. During a time in my life that I was asking big questions, Piper not only satisfied my intellectual appetite but provided a biblical framework that has shaped the way I think about life and ministry.
  3. Thank you for frequently pointing your airsoft gun at me during my summer internship, thus initiating negotiations, and teaching me that sometimes the best way to get you to stop is to not even react.
  4. Thank you for making fun of preachers who used words like “betwixt” and “hitherto,” attempting to sound like a Puritan. I could have become one of those guys.
  5. Thank you for thinking of me when you considered who would be a good fit to serve in the student ministries department at Grace Brethren Church in 2011.
  6. Thank you for demonstrating that a strong leader is never caught off guard, never surprised, and that the ability for such resilience is rooted in a robust belief in the sovereignty of God.
  7. Thank you for repeatedly seeing opportunities in challenges, and communicating them to the people around you. Many obstacles that could have discouraged us were presented as positive opportunities for us to learn, stretch, and grow.
  8. Thank you for checking in on me without micromanaging me.
  9. Thank you for being a shepherd, not a hireling. You can’t turn off being a pastor.
  10. Thank you for loving Erin and your girls well. You are an example to me.
  11. Thank you for making ministry a delight, and teaching me that the best work environments are those where there’s time to laugh and have fun together.
  12. Thank you for showing me that often the best way to shepherd people is to ask good questions and listen well.
  13. Thank you for reminding me never to take myself too seriously.
  14. Thank you for emphasizing the need for good, strategic, communication. I think I’ve known how important what we say is. You taught me the importance of when and how we say it.
  15. Thank you for emphasizing the need for faith-filled mobility while not giving up the need for slow, plodding maturity.
  16. Thank you for showing that discipleship is mostly just intentional friendship, and that the aim of our charge is love. Love can’t be programmed.
  17. Thank you for saying again and again, especially in my early years, that love is inefficient, that ministry is messy, and that people matter more than programs.
  18. Thank you for resisting any program or initiative that potentially undercuts genuine spiritual growth in the lives of your flock.
  19. Thank you for never giving away truth at the expense of love, nor love at the expense of truth.
  20. Thank you for the jokes that pop-up unplanned in your sermons, even the ones that made me cringe. They remind me that preaching ought to be an extension of the personality, and that your style in the pulpit wasn’t much different than your lifestyle outside it.
  21. Thank you for giving a young man like me opportunities to preach, and encouraging me in it.
  22. Thank you for making bets on your favorite sports teams.

    I bet Jordan that the Lakers would win a championship before the Warriors would. I lost.
  23. Thank you for always having your office door unlocked, and telling me in the early days that you made it a point to always welcome whoever might come into your office because you never knew what good you might be able to do for them.
  24. Thank you for how you gently handled some of the mentally handicapped who have come into our church community. The way you have treated them with dignity and honor is exemplary.
  25. Thank you for laughing hard at things, so we know where you are at all times.
  26. Thank you for saying frequently that your greatest fear for the church is that nothing happens, that we would just happily exist without taking any risks.
  27. Thank you for grabbing hold of the church-revitalization idea and running with it, leading in it, and praying for it. You have been its greatest champion, which is a mark of good leadership and God-trusting humility.
  28. Thank you for all the times you’ve asked about my wife and kids.
  29. Thank you for giving me a good example of how to lead men who are my father’s age.
  30. Thank you for inviting me, and others, into your life, including your struggles and difficulties. This is the foundation of all the other things I’ve learned from you. You have embodied Paul’s heart in 2 Timothy 3:10, “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness.”

As I step into a new role as a lead pastor in a different church, I am sure that I will find more to be thankful for, like a kid who isn’t thankful for his parents until he becomes one. God, in his wise and gracious providence, used you in my life to place me on a path of service to Jesus Christ. From an earthly perspective, I can confidently say that apart from your influence I would not be in ministry. I thank God for you, and want to encourage you to continue onward and upward, being faithful to our Lord and Savior, waiting for his blessed appearing, eager to spend your life for the advance of the gospel and the glory of God.

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