If in fact, I had known the future and what exactly God had in store for me in the ministry, I would probably have either denied or delayed this high calling of servanthood. If I could have somehow known all of the challenges and struggles ahead, I would have been scared stiff in my spiritual infancy. In my zeal to be right and thorough, I am sure that I would have made even more mistakes than I have along the way. Therefore, I find myself thanking God and glorifying Christ for this season of ministry that I find myself in. Even though in some ways I am not where I would like to be, I do appreciate the wisdom and renewed perspective of God’s faithfulness that comes with evaluated experience. The truth is, when it is charted out, you find that there is no straight line of success. Instead, it’s a path filled with self-willed detours, potholes, and merciful U-turns.
So what does my ministry perspective look like at this age? I’m glad you asked; but what exactly does “this age” mean? Some would describe “this age” for me as middle-aged. Since I do not know exactly when I shall die, I can’t accurately pinpoint whether or not this is the middle-aged season of my life. One thing is for sure, I am not the same man I was when I started this journey. At this point where I am in my mid-forties and with over twenty-three years of ministry behind me, I do have something to say to those just beginning. Even more telling, if I could go back in time and counsel my much younger self, I could really straighten out that fellow.
Whether you are just beginning in your service to The Lord, are just a decade behind me, or only a few years behind me, let me share some things with you. You do not have to make a mountain of mistakes. Learn from the errors of others and avoid some of the potholes in the path ahead. Be observant and willing to follow the habits of those who have been faithful in their righteousness towards God. Truly, I can tell you now that nothing else will matter in your ministry if you do not maintain your personal life of holy devotion with The Lord. And please know this, my friend, your marriage is more important than your ministry. If you will stay right with God and keep Christ at the center of your marriage, then you can have an effective ministry to the glory of God. Love your spouse as Christ loved the church and never forget that your first call is to serve and lead your family well. What I have just described will spill over into your ministry to The Lord and for His Church. If you place the congregation ahead of your family, you might be somewhat successful for a season of time as you wing along on your own charisma and skill set. However, the lack of a harmonious home life will suck the wind out from under your tired wings. There’s a hard landing ahead!
Now when it comes to your service to the church, be sure to not believe all of the comments that come as those kindhearted individuals are leaving the service. Don’t believe the press. You are not that good, and you’re really not that bad either. Continue in your service with a view in mind that there is only One that you must aim to continually please. While it might seem too basic to say, I will remind you that you must be passionate about God’s Book, the Holy Bible. If yours is a spoken ministry, then listen up and understand me well. You don’t have any business saying what cannot be backed up with the rightly divided truths of Scripture. Your opinions, personal convictions, and pet peeves might all have their place, but do not substitute them for preaching that pleases God. You’d rather preach a sermon too short than one filled with the error of your own doctrine. Keep in mind, your goal is to produce disciples of Christ and not disciples of yourself. It will, therefore, be helpful to your spoken ministry to work at memorizing verses and larger passages of Scripture.
I’ll stop for now, as I could go on and on. Please know, though, that our best days are ahead in the Kingdom of God. We are poised for some good and exciting days for the Church that Jesus Christ continues to build. Your best days in service to Him are ahead as well. Use the days of your life to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. Push yourself to develop into the God-called leader that you are. While I still don’t know the remainder of God’s exact plan for the remainder of my life and ministry, I am surer than ever I can trust His unchanging hand.