By my own judgment of myself I tend to be a slow learner.
After a number of years in pastoral leadership I realized a few things. Some years later a few more. Here are three of them you may find helpful if not frustrating 🙂 !
In no particular order:
–IT REALLY IS ***NOT*** ABOUT YOU.
Following Jesus and in particular helping others to get to know Him, His Word, to walk the walk as opposed to merely hang around is not about you. Or me. Or “success” as many even in the church or other ministry think of it.
Fruit is grown. A positive, Christ-ordained attitude and life lived including things such as a fruitful mind, speech, commitments, marriage, being a father or mother, work ethic in day-job/ministry/whatever… this is the work of the Holy Spirit over days, months, years.
I do not agree with the concept of short-cuts, secrets to growth or major revelations outside of genuine from-the-heart daily prayer, Bible study, confession/accountability, actually serving (in whatever way via whatever gifts the Spirit has actually given a person)… and that of time itself.
Leadership believes, prays, models and teaches all this, but in the end the individual must come to personal epiphany and surrender in love and faith, not mere “doing” for fruitful spiritual and practical life to happen. It is not your job nor mine to -be- God the Holy Spirit. Neither by form, demand nor force can a person be brought to spiritual maturity in the love and actual relationship with Jesus that is of course, essential. There is no one-size-fits-all template though I am sure some reading this will not accept such a fact -until time and experience reveal the reality of it.
You and I may be part of the process, some of the process or in some cases, none of it. No worries, it’s not about us though at times God graciously uses us as part of the process for some. Either way, give thanks and keep serving!
–IT’S ABOUT -TIME-.
Time, time, time.
God tells us “Our times are in His hands”, “Whosoever WILL let them come”, and of course re. the prodigal son- “When he came to himself” meaning the lights came on for him in a way he recognized his deep need to come home or die. Survival at the very least, right and restored relationship to his father at best.
Over many years in ministry it has become glaringly obvious some folks just are not ready at this or that point in time.
It may take months, years, “eating grass” and horrid conditions that God either orchestrates or surely allows in any case, but time is the common leveler of “I did it MY way”… and “not His”. The lights come on and often you and I won’t see it. It may be at another stop on their individual road, but it is more likely than not to happen.
Sweet old ladies took me to a vacation Bible school in a little rural church when I was perhaps six years old. They helped me memorize John 3.16 -but it was not until addiction and misery on a number of levels a full 12 years later that I remembered that verse in a moment of crying out “WHO are You and what are You trying to say?!! I don’t get it but I know You are here!” Boom. MAJOR, eternal BOOM. The lights came on big time.
How often leaders wring their hands, consider quitting or full-on quit and bail on their calling to serve due to the pain of giving all they know to give and yet see tragedy if not simply long-term fruitlessness in lives they have given themselves to care for.
Walk on and keep loving, giving and serving REGARDLESS of the obvious fruit or lack of it. This takes loving faith and daily obedience no matter the details. God knows FAR better than you and I how to “write on the wall” of the person/s in question. Trust Him and keep serving.
–GENUINE LOVE HURTS… BUT IT’S THE BEST HURT.
And a good hurt. Consider Jesus on the cross. Easter -did- finally arrive!
Love hurts. You know it and I know it.
True love costs. It costs a lot. This is at core why so many put their hand to the particular calling of Christian leadership and eventually “look back”. It is easier to leave than stay, to “go to seed” than to produce disciples (listeners/learners).
But take heart and remember how many areas of maturity only came into your life over many years… many-many years!
We experience encounter after encounter with God, His people, those not His people, various events (some breaking us, some uplifting us, BOTH part of the process) before we “got it”… or at least at present are beginning to “get it”.
Patience is also a fruit of the Spirit, also produced over time. Wisdom (based on accurate knowledge) comes much the same. There are no short-cuts, no 1, 2, 3 and bingo methods.
Loving obedience to the Lord is a long-term walk and though I admit it includes personal crosses, I see no other life worth living.
Please consider this before you are tempted to “curse God and die” dear Christian brother and sister in leadership.
Please love God and the sheep (and potential sheep) enough to keep your hand on the plow He calls you to, the field He places you in.
Love calls us to nothing else and nothing less.
Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn