22 Years and 5 Things Later
It’s hard to believe that I have had the privilege of serving the church vocationally for twenty-two years. In my first year, I would have placed the under bet on the wager that I would last twenty-two months. Yet here I am reflecting on two decades plus two years of church work and have come up with five things I have never said.
Preaching is boring. I estimate that I have preached about two thousand times over the years (sometimes the same sermon multiple times). But I can’t think of a single time when I approached the pulpit and thought to myself that preaching was getting old. I still get a little queasy when I think about the weight of sharing God’s Word with God’s people. And when I finish the message and leave the pulpit, I am always struck by the thought that I have so much more to learn about preaching. The depth of God’s Word is unfathomable and there is always more to there to mine.
Prayer is easy. Maybe this is true of all christians everywhere, but I find keeping up a vibrant prayer life is very hard. When I do stop to pray, my thoughts can be frenetic. And when my day becomes busy, prayer is the often the first thing to be scratched from my schedule. I know this must change. You can always pray more for me that I would pray more for us.
People don’t care about our church. I had the false idea that people who attend church don’t really care about the church before I was a pastor. My experience has made it clear to me that nothing could be further from the truth. I am shocked and humbled by how much time and money church members give away in service and stewardship. Their level of sacrifice and commitment has been inspiring to me and must be pleasing to Jesus.
Things are going smoothly. I lived for at least a decade thinking the day would arrive when everything would just come together. It never happened and it still hasn’t. It dawned on me one day that there are two great biblical reasons as to why things never have nor ever will go smoothly in ministry before Jesus’ return. First, we have sin problems inside the church. Second, we have satanic persecution outside the church. Pressure from within and pressure from without hardly leads to tranquility. But it does make us desperately dependent on Jesus. Which brings me to my last “never said that”.
Jesus is disappointing. The very best part of the last twenty-two years has been getting to know Jesus through serving his church. He is good to his people beyond measure. I have buried people and married people. I have laughed and cried. I have silently prayed and loudly shouted. I have been fortunate enough to be with the people I love most during some of their best and worst times. One thread has weaved all these experiences together for me. Jesus is good and can be trusted. He never disappoints those who depend on him.