This post is a bit more personal than most of what I offer. My church kindly recognized that I had hit the ten-year mark for the privilege of being our pastor, and what follows below is a short “thank you” that I inserted in our church bulletin. My thanks extends to the greater body of Christ as well. I wouldn’t be a pastor at my current church were it not for all the Christians, churches, pastors, ministries, and more that the Lord has used to make me who I am today. Please consider this note of gratitude to my church as a public thanks to all who have been a means of God’s grace to me.
Dear First Baptist Church,
Last Sunday, you as a church graciously honored me for ten years of service. You also gave me a generous gift. Thank you for your kindness.
Your gift prodded me to search “ten years” in the Bible, yielding some interesting results. After ten years in Canaan, Sarai gave Hagar as a wife to Abram (Genesis 16:3). After ten years in Moab, Orpah and Ruth lost their husbands (Ruth 1:4). Ten years is how long Elon judged, Menahem reigned, and Asa enjoyed rest in Israel (Judges 12:11; 2 Kings 15:17; 2 Chron 14:1; cf. 16:13). That’s every explicit reference to “ten years” that I could find.
A search for “ten,” “tens,” “tenth,” or “tenths” brought so many results that I can only mention a few. God gave Egypt ten plagues (Exodus 7–12) and then gave Israel ten commandments (Exodus 34:28; cf. 20:1–17). Several features in the tabernacle and temple were counted or measured in tens (Exodus 26:1, 16; 36:8, 21; 38:12; 1 Kings 6:3, 23, 24, 25, 26; 7:10, 23, 24, 27, 37, 38, 43). Tithes were in tenths (Genesis 14:20; 28:22; Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 5:11; 6:20; 14:21), and every tenth animal was holy to the Lord (Leviticus 27:32).
Jesus healed ten lepers (Luke 17:12) and told parables with tens—virgins, talents, silver coins, servants, minas, cities (Matt 25:1, 28; Luke 15:8, 17:12; 19:13, 18). John saw that the church in Smyrna would suffer ten days, a tenth of Jerusalem would fall, and the dragon and the beast would have ten horns, representing ten kings (Revelation 2:10; 11:13; 13:1; 17:12).
Oh, and, God made us with ten fingers and ten toes. Thinking theologically, that was apparently a fitting number of fingers and toes for our Lord Jesus Christ.
One author states, “‘Ten’ can be used as a round number or as hyperbole” or something used in “a stock phrase.”* For example, Daniel was said to be ten times better than the Babylonian officials (Daniel 1:20). “‘Ten’ can also be used as a number of completion.”* Recalling Daniel again, ten days were sufficient to test his diet and ongoing health (Daniel 1:12).
Due to moves, college, and seminary, I have never been at another church for ten years. So, personally and pastorally, ten years is pretty special. If the study above teaches me something, I suppose there’s a sense of completeness in that I’m no longer the rookie who came here in 2013, and I can now round my time off in a stock phrase and say things like, “Yeah, I’ve been the pastor here for ten years.” I’ll probably still say that in year eleven.
I heard once that only two out of ten pastors are still pastors after ten years, and maybe one of them will pastor for life. If God brought me through ten years, He can bring me through every year hereafter and into His heavenly kingdom.
Thank you again for last Sunday. To God be all the glory.
* William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), p. 716.