The Award


Nothing could prepare my heart for what was coming.

I sat in the award ceremony, Friday night at Annual Conference.  There were several awards before ours.  As I heard each I was celebrating them, I can “rejoice with those who rejoice,” but feeling like I didn’t deserve the one coming for us.  Strange contradiction of emotion.  Unfinished business of my own heart.

It reminded me why I don’t like award ceremonies in general, for I sit there feeling like I ought to be more than I am, accomplish more than I have, become significant by receiving a similar award.  My heart travels the well-worn path to shame with ease, even after years of seeking to teach it other ways.

But then my DS, Erin Martin, stood and read her statement for our “One Matters Discipleship Award.”  She read:

“Discipleship matters at Westside UMC. Whether it is through engaging youth in an intensive 11-month confirmation process that leads youth, not simply to membership, but to Profession of Faith and a lifetime of discipleship. Whether it is through a Bible Basics class taught by the Westside Lay Leader that leads people to growth and a calling forth of leadership. Whether it is through “Simply the Story,” a twice a month model of scriptural storytelling, that leads people beyond memorization into application of scripture as they internalize and tell others the stories of God. Discipleship matters at Westside UMC because it permeates everything they do. There is simply the expectation of growth as a fundamental part of their life together.”

“What is more is that this Fall, Westside is corporately going on a journey. Asking themselves in worship and in study, “Where are we as disciples?” Together, they will explore 7 different places of growth and encourage one another to move from being an earner to an heir, as they grow in their trust in God, from being self-hearted to being soft-hearted, as they grow in obedience, from isolation to community, as they grow in relating, from being consumers to producers, as they grow in service, from being charitable to extravagant as they grow in giving. And finally moving from being travelers to guides as they grow in discipleship.”

“It will be a holistic approach, a journey that will continue to provoke, and stimulate and undergird the on-going reality of continued spiritual growth in Westside’s approach to discipleship.”

I listened to what she read.  It was just a true description of us at Westside. It is who we are.  We are simply walking out discipleship intentionally, day by day, week by week.  Karen leaned over and whispered, “You hear it?  It’s all true, what she’s reading.  It’s all true.”  I did, and it was.  Powerful what God can do through truth.  I received it, so grateful for the affirmation of many.  And I got to “receive it” again and again as others simply said “congratulations!” to me for the church’s work, and I got to say “Thank you,” again.

Then, on Father’s Day, during dinner, we were sharing a bit around this theme of the award, and Grace, one of our four truth-tellers, said, “Dad, awards and achievement mean much to you, but you need to constantly remind your heart that it is not in the achievement of numbers nor awards that life is found.  You are enough, just as you are. And who you are is achieving incredible things in many lives, because of being you.  These things may not garner any earthly credits or awards, but a difference is being made eternally.”  Grace reminded me of this:

A woman had come up to me at Annual Conference, sharing a memory from 20 years back, when I had prayed for her during a praise and prayer time at Annual Conference.  “That day God used your prayer to speak powerfully to me.  You prayed for areas of my life you couldn’t have known about, because you and I had just barely met, and nailed several specifics on the head.  That prayer changed my life.”

I don’t know what prompted her to say that, at this Annual Conference, but it all got woven together into the same tapestry of awards.

God is doing things far and beyond what anyone sees, or especially, what I see. And much of what God accomplishes through my life or anyone’s life is not achieved through “trying” but by belonging to the One who flows through us to change this world.  Like Grace reminded me, who I am makes the difference.  And like the magnificence of God’s work in creation, placing glorious color before majestic mountains, so you and I are beautiful in His tapestry.


About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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4 Responses to The Award

  1. Wild Willy says:

    Well said and very true, the award was well deserved by you and your congregation . All our gifts would come to nought if we did not share them and if others didn’t pick them up and grow through them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. David Luce says:

    What a joy to read about ‘The Award’ – so well deserved. I’m glad you received it as it really affirmed not only what you do, but who you are. So be encouraged. And thanks a lot for the Skype yesterday: it was very special.

    Very much love, as always,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Camino Way 2016 Shimer says:

      Thanks pops!!!! Yes great joy to share. We need to schedule our nextskype. It was a great boon in my day!!!!!! ❤️


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