Wow, the Baptist Messenger has a new look. Knowing Baptists (of which I are one), a handful of people will write letters saying they like the old Baptist Messenger better-“If it was good for the apostles, it’s good enough for me.” Now, I am not a pessimist, and I think I have resolved any anger issues over the move from page 11 to page 4. I just know Baptists don’t do well with change.

This month, I begin my 10th year of writing for the Baptist Messenger. This article is my 450th. Originally, I was asked to “fill in” and write . . . one. That’s how Baptists get you to do things. I think all pastors take a special seminary class: “How to Get People to Volunteer Without Volunteering.” You know how it works. The pastor asks you to fill in for a few Sundays, teaching the junior high students. Reluctantly, you agree to help-only until they can find a permanent replacement. Fifteen years later, you realize you are still the temporary junior high teacher. When you inquire how the search is going, the pastor tells you with a wink that they are “still looking.”

As I have told you before, I am not a writer. An editor friend who has seen my writing suggests I may even have dyslexia. Maybe that is why I had such a difficult time in school. The words I produce for this page come out all mixed up and turned around. Sometimes I take hours trying to put them in the right place-like putting pieces into a jigsaw puzzle. Through the years, I have had different people help me by going over each article. I need someone else who will make sure the pieces fit before I send it in.

The reason I am sharing this “little secret” with you is that I can boast in my weakness! I recognize it as a “God thing.” How could a young boy who never did well in school and has always struggled with the English language become someone who ministers to parents through his writing? Only by the grace of God!

Of course, I couldn’t have better encouragers than my Baptist Messenger family. Every other week for the last 10 years, I have felt like giving up. The devil whispers, “Why do you have to write . . . again?” That is when I stop and ask God to help me bless someone who reads “Rite of Passage Parenting.”

When I began this column, I wanted to write scholarly articles for parents. I ran out of “scholarly” the second week. From then on, I have just tried to be myself. I realized people didn’t need a weekly lecture on what they were doing wrong, or someone telling them they were bad parents. Instead, what they really needed was a good laugh.

For the past nine years, I have prayed that someone who needs a release from a burden will pick up this paper, read my article, and get a chuckle so that for an instant, their problems and burdens become a distant memory. If my readers can do that and learn something at the same time, I know God will be truly glorified.

I keep asking the editors if they have found someone else to write this column. With a wink, they tell me they are still looking. I think those guys must have attended one of our Baptist seminaries. And . . . congratulations to the Baptist Messenger on the new look!