“Be prepared for the change God will make in your heart, life, and ministry.” – James Macdonald.
As I approach my one year anniversary of my ordination, I have often thought about the trials I have faced in the previous year, and they were numerous. As I was being brought up as a pastor, I was constantly told, again and again, that it is not for the weak because God is going to stretch your faith and call you out of your comfort zone.
For a number of months, I have not felt like a pastor though. A big reason for that is simple: I don’t pastor at a church. I know that sounds crazy, right? I mean, being a pastor is associated with being a pastor of a church. Well, I was serving as an assistant pastor of a church for a while but I entered into a new season of my life and that led me away from being in that church.
In my time away I had the opportunity to reflect on what I have accomplished and where I was in that time. To be honest, it doesn’t always feel great knowing that I have a calling on my life (as a pastor) and not even having a local church. Often times, I feel and have felt so far from where I want and where I should be. In the end, I find myself asking, “Who do you think you are God?”
The depth to which you allow the Gospel to penetrate your life will determine the legacy you leave behind.
(1) God (Can’t) Use Me!
Yes, I believe God called me to accomplish specific tasks. As an example, I had prayed for God to open the doors for a church and God provided that specific church I was look for. I served there in any way I could, serving in multiple areas. Yet, I faced so much frustration because the church was heading towards an end and I knew it. I prayed about it and did everything I could to divert away from that but in the end; the local church ceased to exist and no longer exists to this day. Sometimes I actually feel responsible for the ministries I have been involved with not doing so well.
Jesus is for losers. His strength is revealed through the weakness I expose. On my own, I can do nothing and in Christ, I can do anything.
(2) God, I Am (Not) Ready!
I have served in a number of ministries over the past seven years. Ultimately, I have had to walk away from every one of them. In almost every case, I walked away because I felt like the ministry was either not honoring God or I could no longer serve in that role and bring honor to God because I felt God calling me to leave. While I served in the ministry roles, I faced opposition, often times from others within the body of Christ. If you haven’t tasted that type of opposition, I will let you know right now, it will challenge your faith like nothing else will. The reason is because you have to face the willingness to continue to not only follow Jesus but to serve his church, sometimes even the people who oppose you. Not only is this to challenge your faith but reveals if you truly love Christ, which is reflected when you love others.
Serve, worship, pursue, follow and trust Jesus. He is worth the trials you will face, he is worth the trouble you will encounter and he is worth losing your life for.
(3) God, I Will (Never) Be A Pastor
Shortly after my call to preach, I began listening to other preachers. Most notably, I began learning and listening to Steven Furtick who serves as the Lead Pastor at Elevation Church. I think what Steven and Elevation Church accomplish is inspiring and amazing. I have a list of other pastors and often times when I hear them preach via podcast, I find myself day dreaming, wishing to be in their shoes, wishing I had “arrived.” In essence, I wish that God had already brought me though and given me a church, placed me as a pastor and had a team of committed believers by my side. The truth is I fear the idea of being a pastor because of the weaknesses I see in me. Most of the preachers/pastors I listen to are just the opposite of who I am.
I will never be the pastor I picture in my head but I will be the pastor God has called me to be. My call is to abide in Christ and as he abides in me, I will accomplish his purposes.
(4) God, (Can) You Hear Me!
In the end, I find myself standing in the gap between who God says I am, what he has called me to do and who I think I am. While I am far from perfect, God expects me to be obedient to his word, nothing more, and nothing less. My misunderstandings come from a lack of wisdom and a lack of perspective. I might never be a lead pastor and I might never have a church that I want. I might find myself wondering if God hears me at all sometimes.
I will serve God and love those who come my way. I may fall short but I will respond to the call God has placed upon my life.
(5) God, I’m (Not) OK!
In the world of ministry, I can see where I would like to go. I see the plan, I see the vision. It’s so close to me I can almost touch it. While I serve, I have continually attempted to map out ideas on how to get there. In the end, nothing has ever come full circle; nothing has ever really worked the way I thought it would. It’s not about me getting my way but trying something new, something different, even if the idea isn’t totally original. It’s about trying to do something though. When things fall apart, I look back at the attempt and just find myself saying once again, I failed and nothing worked out. God continually stands next to me.
If Jesus is all I have, then I have more than enough. The purpose of my life is to be faithful to Christ.