Turning 40 is what some see as a half-way mark in life. And so its an opportunity to reflect. And as we reflect, its good to journal some thoughts down, just to have a record of where your thoughts were in that season of life. So as I share these thoughts, it will be interesting to reread them 40 years from today.
Here are some things on my mind today.
- God has been kind to me. From birth to today: I have seen the goodness of God.
2. One of the best investments we’ve made with my wife was into our kids. All four of our kids are in private school, plus we take them to piano lessons, voice lessons, sports, drama club, youth group, and such commitments are difficult. And honestly, it takes a financial toll on us. But, at this season in my life, I am able to see how thats been our best investment.
Whenever we invest, some investments go well, and others not so well. Last year, I got excited about crypto and invested $200 hard earned money into crypto. Today, that investment is only worth $100 unfortunately. And though some investments can end well and others dont, investing time & energy into your kids and their growth is an investment we will not regret.
3. Some say we mostly marry someone compatible to us. As for me, I clearly married UP. There is no way would I be here today, doing what I do today, if it wasn’t for my wife. Tanya is a ONE on the enneagram. For those who aren’t knowledgeable of the Enneagram, ONES’ like everything perfect, proper, and in order. I’m a three on the enneagram. I want to change the world. But if I go about changing the world without some precautionary steps, proper planning, rest, healthy eating and sleeping, then Ill just run myself into a wall. In other words, every three needs a one. (But also, everyone ONE needs a THREE).
4. At the age of 40, your body begins to speak to you a little louder. There is a book called “The body keeps the score.” If we dont treat our body like it needs to be treated, at 40, your body begins to speak louder and will let you know what the score is. And that voice, from what Im told, becomes louder and louder from now on. Dont fall for the idea that physical exercise and health is of “little use.” Im learning that it is better to do less and exercise more, than to run fast and see physical health as of little use. Id rather get less done and exercise, so that I can last longer and be happier because the body keeps the score.
5. Dont lose hope in people. Throughout life, there will be people who betray you, help you, desert you, abuse you, gossip about you, are faithful to you, teach you, use you, care less about you, and those who will be kind to you and generous towards you. Paul, writing his final letter we have (2nd Timothy), mentions 25 people by name in that letter. Some hurt him. Others were a blessing to him.
The lesson Ive learned near my 40th is that choosing to give up and be hopeless in humanity is a choice. Cynicism is a choice. Becoming offended is a choice. Yes, there will be those who betray you and hurt you. But, the beauty of having “one another” to do life with is worth the search and the occasional let down. So grateful for the people I get to do life with. Just this week, I had a couple men over at my house as I was receiving from surgery. They laid their hands on me and prayed for me. And in that second, I thought surgery was worth having just so that we could experience that moment together.
Find a tribe of friends. Love them. Serve them. Forgive them. Make time for them. Be gracious to them.
6. In this season of my life, I have really learned to appreciate and cherish time and relationships with peers in my field. As a pastor, I learn from other pastors. And, today I am connected to many pastors in our region, and pastors across the US. Im part of a team called “Church Momentum Collaborative,” where we come alongside ethnic church planters and transitioning ethnic churches, and we support one another. There are now 80 of us with a Slavic background across the US. I love going to conferences such as Practicing the Way with John Mark Comer, Church Multiplication Network through the Assemblies of God, Grow at Church of the Highlands, ARC Conferences and others, and there I gain so much wisdom, encouragement and knowledge.
I have a practice of texting 10 pastors a week and encouraging them. Every week, its different pastors, and they are my peers, they need encouragement, just as much as I do. And these relationships with my peers bring joy to my life.
7. Education is expensive but necessary. As mentioned above, all 4 of our kids are in a private school, and that is EXPENSIVE. I am also finishing up my Master’s Degree from Biola University in a couple of months, and that has been an investment of $10,000 a year. As soon as Im done with my program, my wife will most likely be working on an additional degree she’s been considering for some time. And the investment commitment is not just financial, it is also a commitment of time & energy. But, that is an investment we find valuable and worthwhile. Hope we can be life-long learners.
8. Im grateful for mentors. Books and authors, dead or alive are great. But they cant replace real, living people who know you by name and can speak into you. Throughout my life, God has used different people in different seasons to invest into me, teach me, and guide me. In the past, it has included such people as Pavel Radchuk and Vasily Botsyan. In this season, Im very grateful for Ben Sigman of Timberlake Church, George Davidiuk, and Gordon Banks of Overcomer Covenant Church and the voice they are in my life.
But the truth is, having mentors in your life is not dependent on the mentors themselves. Its starts with me. It starts with you! Do you give anyone in your life permission to speak into you? Are you willing to take someone’s advice? Are you teachable? Dont wait for a mentor to find you. Find someone you want to learn from, and find time and space to hear what they are saying and practice it.
9. Church planting is rewarding but hard. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Yet, church planting is crucial. You want America to change? We need more churches!
This year, we planted Woodmark Church in Kirkland Washington. If you’ve been to a Costco, then you know the Kirkland brand. This is the city we are planting in. A city of 100,000 people, on the Eastside of Seattle.
I am hesitant to celebrate too much now, because I still keep on thinking I am going to wake up, and realize it was all in a dream. But, God is doing something special. Lives are being changed. Healthy small groups are popping up around our region. Our youth ministry is really coming together. Our team is truly a dream team. Our Sunday services are exceptional and eagerly await each weekend.
At the same time, financially, we need help. All church plants need help. New people are coming, nonbelievers are coming, and we want to serve them well.
And even today at Woodmark Church, we are at a crucial point. Honestly, we need a financial miracle. When it comes to our monthly income and expenses, we are doing well. But, it’s the additional unplanned expenses that leads us into a posture of prayer. This week, we need to pay for a sound board, and we don’t have the resource. We need to raise $4,000. If you can, in leu of my 40th birthday present, help us, we will consider your help as an answer to prayer. And we know God will answer, because He has Kirkland on His mind! (If you want to help us pay for our sound board, you can give here: https://www.woodmarkchurch.com/give )
10. What a difficult season this has been for Ukraine. Since February, not a day has gone by without me checking in on Ukraine, and praying for that nation. And even in the last couple of days, people are dying and homes are being destroyed.
And on this 40th birthday, my prayer is still: Lord, have mercy on Ukraine. Stop the evil that has come upon them.
Reflections on my 40th Birthday
2 thoughts on “Reflections on turning 40”
Happy Birthday Russell
Nice to hear your thoughts on turning 40. I am happy to have shared some of your journey. God has blessed you with some of the best: parents, siblings, Ukrainian heritage of a persecuted church, missionary mentoring and perfect wife for you!