January 21, 2020
Disappoint, Envy, and the Toledo Mud Hens
Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan
5 "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor." ~ I Cor. 3: 5-8 - NIV
Recently several younger pastors have vented their frustrations to me of folks that have been a part of their congregation and are now leaving for another church group.
"I led them to the Lord!" ... "I walked with them through this (numerous issues - marital issues, child issues, health issues, etc.)...." "they left for me/us for something more new, shiny, or bigger..."
Wow, pastor, this hurts! I feel you on this, been there and have a T-shirt, too.
We pastors are human and we are prone to emotional stress in these matters. How to handle it? May I give a few ideas I pray that will help as I have struggled with this:
The main thing is people believing in Jesus: both in 1 Cor. 1:17 and now again in 1 Cor. 3, Paul picks up the idea that we (all pastors, in all sizes of congregations ) are not as important as Jesus. We are servants together to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord.
Please keep this in mind: I am a servant of Jesus, helping to connect people to Him. I am part of a team, a group effort in the winning the world for Jesus. Are my ego needs more important than helping others connect to the Lord Jesus Christ?
I have a role in disciple making: The Toledo Mud hens are a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Detroit Tigers. They develop young players who are often called up to play for the Tigers. They also rehabilitate players that need some extra help.
In several of the congregations I have served, I have felt like the Mud Hens: I help a person come to Christ, to grow in faith and then watch them go on to a larger group.
My choice now; whine and complain or say "thank you" that they still serve my Lord and theirs?
I have several prospects that are serving in other places, and I am grateful to see them serve. I have a role in their walk with the Lord and I keep lines of communication open to help in that. People move all the time and open doors allow for continued disciple making.
Seek the Lord's reward: back in 1985 I was serving a small rural church. My friend Jim Cook was the pastor of St. Joe First Church – much, much bigger outfit. Jim regularly invited me to lunch and at one lunch said to me with much appreciation and encouragement, "Dave, I could never serve as well as you do there in Cassopolis." God used Jim and that conversation to encourage me. My place of service is not small in God’s eyes. My role is important to God.
The Lord Jesus Christ saved me and called me into the ministry. It is a privilege that I get to help others find salvation in Jesus, too. Hang in there, Pastor!
January 13, 2020
The daily work we preachers' do!
Rev. David Perry, Pastor, Edgewood Church of God in Ithaca, Michigan
"Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth." ~ 2 Timothy 2:15 Amplified Bible (AMP)
This January is the 39th year of pastoral ministry for me. Glory be to the Lord for this. The calling into ministry is both from God and a work of effort for me. It is like much of the Christian walk = a gift that we receive and a gift that we must also grow and develop.
A former friend of mine (I won't mention Glenn's name so I won't embarrass him) has said several times real loud in public, "I wish I had a preachers job – one hour a week!". It does beg the question; what do preachers do during the week?
Many, many things but perhaps the one of the most essential thing we ministers and church leaders ought to do is study the Bible daily.
The idea Paul has in mind in 2 Tim. 2: 15 is that studying the Bible is an ongoing intentional effort on our part. There is danger in saying, "Well, I have a college degree or I have memorized this or I preached/ taught this passage so many, many times, that I got this completely down pat!" None of us can afford that attitude. That smugness will choke our spirit and will weaken our ministry.
Study and keep studying the Bible. Preacher, church leader that is our job. Don't coast or rely on past work only. Study the Bible daily and study it freshly - with an open mind ready for new insights.
I am at a point in years of ministry where I am sometimes teaching/preaching on passages that I have used before. The danger is to just rely on my old notes and become pretty formulaic.
For many years I had a glass diamond globe that hung from my rearview mirror in my car. The cool thing about it is as the Sun shone through it, the different faucets of this diamond globe would reflect the sunlight into a variety of dazzling hues of color. Same light, different angle, variety of beauty.
The beauty of the Bible is if I am willing to come to it fresh and open, it has new nuances for me to discover each day!
The Word of God is timeless and speaks God's truth to all people in all cultures in all generations. Studying it over time has revealed an unending stream of wonder!
Study and keep studying the Word of God. Enjoy the journey of discovery God has for you in your daily study.
January 6, 2020
Rev. Mark K. Richardson, State Pastor, Church of God in Michigan
"Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past." "Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth; will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
Most new cars, and certainly all smart phones today have Global Positioning Systems (GPS) capability. This has become a near necessity in our time. This great tool allows us to travel nearly anywhere in the United States and beyond with turn-by-turn instructions based upon satellite positioning of our location. It been my experience that this usually works very well, except for those times when I decide I know better than the GPS and start off on a “shortcut.” My most egregious mistake with this was once turning an eight hour trip to Nags Head from Pittsburgh into a grueling 13 hour trip by taking a “shortcut” through the mountains of West Virginia. If you are familiar with how a GPS works, you know that when you go off course it will say something like “Recalculating” or “Recalibrating.” It will then give you a new route with adjustments made to fix your “shortcuts.”
Happy New Year to you all, by the way! Each New Year represents a great opportunity for us to go through a time of “recalibrating.” If you are like me, you like to take time at the beginning of a New Year to evaluate the previous year and, based upon that, go through a time of “recalibrating” for the New Year. I want to share with you some things that have helped me over the years as I work through my process.
Review With Thanksgiving (Look back over 2019 and thankfully assess several things)
Who you are now versus who you were in January 2019; What you’ve accomplished over the year; What you didn’t do that you wanted to do; What lessons you’ve learned good and bad; What people impacted you during the year; How have you grown in every way in your life; What precious cargo have you discovered that you can take with you in 2020; What from 2019 do you need to put into the dumpster that won’t help you going forward. Thank God profusely for it all, good and bad, because each of them will teach you something that will make you better and move you forward. In fact, I would encourage you to offer to God a daily litany of thanksgiving for what He has done, what He is doing, and what He is going to do.
Remember With Praise
Remind yourself just Who your God is: His Presence; His Power; His Providence; His Plan; His Provisions; His Promises. Remind yourself of what He has called you to do, and rededicate yourself to doing it with all you have. Draw near to Him in daily devotion, remembering the zeal you had when you first answered the call to serve Him. Remember that you can trust Him to honor every good and perfect gift He has laid aside for you and put in you. Make it a daily habit, just like with thanksgiving, to praise Him for Who He is and what He is capable of doing. As you stoke your remembrance of His greatness and glory, allow your perspective of God to grow. Try making praise (and thanksgiving) the biggest part of your prayers, with the desire to know Him more, hear Him more clearly, and have more of Him.
Recalibrate With Determination
Set your entire being on going forward and claiming that which God has prepared for you. This is the challenge for us to recalibrate some key things that make the journey of the call richer. The things we need insure are on the right course are things like: Our attitudes, our consecration; our commitment; our focus; our determination; our health (physical, mental, spiritual, financial, relational); our passion for Christ. Be determined that in your ministry and your home life apart from ministry that you will give excellent, determined effort to be pleasing to God. There will always be a score of tasks to do, goals and objectives to meet, and the whirlwind of ministry, but never allow them to keep you from staying on course with the Lord. If you find yourself there in any way, “recalibrate!”
May the Lord bless us all with an awesome 2020 in this great ministry and in every aspect of our lives.