There was an older minister (now deceased) from whom I learned a lot. When I knew him, he was preaching in Findlay, Ohio and I was preaching in Tiffin, Ohio. Even then, he was past retirement age and still going strong. His name was Harry McFadden and he used to say, “If I had a hundred lifetimes to live over, I would live every one of them in the ministry of the Lord Jesus.” That has always been my feeling about the enormous privilege of being in the Christian ministry.
When you have been in the ministry for several years, you develop a lengthy list of heartaches and disappointments. Individuals that you love, attempt to help make poor choices and suffer serious consequences. There is also the list of those that make the poorest choice of all: failing to surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord. Nonetheless, Diane and I would not trade the opportunity to be in the ministry for anything in the world.
Dan Overmeyer sent me a post from Chuck Swindoll that summarizes how I feel about this wonderful calling:
|Pastoring a church has to be the highest of all callings. In this position, one has the privilege of touching life at its tenderest points . . . of walking with pain through its darkest valleys . . . of proclaiming truth in its purest form . . . of confronting sin in its ugliest scenes . . . of modeling integrity through its hardest extremes—while everyone is watching as well as when no one is looking. It is no wonder to me why it requires a God-given calling before one enters it or why such a struggle accompanies resignation from it.|
And after all these years I say a resounding, “Thanks for the memories!” For the conversions that have occurred, the addictions that have been conquered, the marriages that have been restored, the fractured lives that have been mended. These memories stay with me and revisit me often as I thank Him for His faithfulness.
I am thankful for wonderful ministry memories, but even more grateful that the best lies ahead. We live in a community where there is great need, and we are a church with terrific (unlimited) potential. God is using us – and will continue to use us in ways we cannot even envision.