I’ve been a lead pastor for nearly five years.
In that time I have easily learned more than in the combined previous seventeen years of ministry. My list of teachers and mentors over the course of those years would be the source of envy in many fellow ministers. However, not one of those brilliant men and women can teach like the grandmaster…experience.
It’s also important to state that the challenges I have faced would be a welcomed change for many in my vocation. That truth is not lost on me.
Over these fifty-nine months of learning, there is one lesson of which I feel I’ve gained absolutely no grasp. You see, soon after I experience what for the sake of this conversation we’ll call a success, am I confronted with a litany of details, interactions, and tasks that steal my attention; and with it, my disposition.
I have found that with the longevity in ministry I am aspiring to achieve, brings with it a host of sorrow and confusion. Yes, I have much to celebrate. God has done and is doing a remarkable work in and through the life of our church, but my flesh seems to be distracted by the desire of an event that has never been promised…arrival.
The journey of ministry seems to be just that, a journey. Just below the waterline lurks an expectation that if we work hard enough, care for people well enough, pray enough, preach faithfully, that at some point we will find the end of the river. Each time I think I’m nearly at that much desired destination, I find not the shoreline, but an eddy allowing me a moment to catch my breathe before the current once again carries me away to navigate the rocks and rapids lined up in my path.
My goal in sharing these thoughts are not to vent my frustrations, or seek your compassionate encouragement. I’m simply working through them. As I write I sense the Holy Spirit comforting me and challenging me to lift my head. I am reminded of the Apostle Peter’s words to “cast all my anxieties on Him because He cares for (me).”
If I allow these thoughts to remain in my heart and mind they gain a false strength. So here tonight I’m reminding my enemy and myself of the power of my God. I’m remembering that I’m the blessed man who travels this river without fear. My guide not only knows what lies ahead, He’s the one who gave shape the waters.
I know there are far more difficult days ahead. I also know that I have not yet become all that I was created to be. So like Paul in the face of the unknown, I too “forgetting what lies behind and strain toward what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.“