Several weeks ago I wrote an article about a frustrating episode with a seat belt. Here’s the story. As I was leaving our house, I forgot to fasten my seat belt. As I drove down our gravel drive, I tried to fasten the belt but could not get it to release from the restrainer. That frustrated me! (This is part 1.) When I got on the smooth asphalt road the seat belt released smoothly. I discovered the rough gravel drive (somehow) triggered the belt mechanism to not release.
It’s disturbing to think that a servant of Christ could become hopeless! I don’t mean hopeless about eternal things, but hopeless about life. You might say, no way!
Do you ever get frustrated? Yesterday I got frustrated, had a learning experience, and laughed at myself - all in one episode. As I was leaving our house, I forgot to fasten my seatbelt. As I drove down our gravel drive, I tried to fasten the belt but could not get it to fasten. It would not release from the restrainer. That frustrated me. However, when I got on the smooth asphalt road the seatbelt released smoothly. I discovered the rough gravel drive (somehow) triggered the belt mechanism to not release.
I learned several lessons this episode and they are applicable for those of us who serve in ministry. First, and most obvious, do not let your frustration get the best of you. All of us face frustration. Difficult people, frustration with scheduling, ministries that do not go smoothly, church not growing…the list goes on.
This morning I read the story of Gideon, once again. After reading that story, I burst out singing the old hymn Wonderful Grace of Jesus.
Let me tell you what I saw in Gideon’s story. Hopefully, Gideon’s story will encourage you. God’s grace encourages, enriches and strengthens us for ministry.
Have you seen any “smoke screens” lately? The term smoke screen originated as a term to describe the masking of the movement or location of military units such as infantry, tanks, aircraft or ships. Since its origin, the phrase has been used to describe any effort at a cover up. This could refer to language, behavior and misleading actions. This phrase is often used to describe human behavior that is not totally honest.
A funny thing happened to me this week. I have been trying to reach a good friend, with whom I speak almost weekly. However, on this occasion we hadn’t spoken in 4-6 weeks. I had tried sending text messages, making calls, and leaving voice messages. During this period he was having phone problems. He was missing calls from me as well as from others.
A few nights ago, as I was trying to fall asleep, I was overcome with a feeling of loneliness. My sons live in Chicago and Southeast Asia. I do not get to see them and their families as often as I would like. My father and only brother are both deceased. They died in 2007 and 2008. My mother and I are the only immediate blood relative family members left. My church is made up of people who are mostly related or life-long friends. These factors could contribute to loneliness.
We all know pastoring is a full-time job. How can anyone, especially Paul, serve as a pastor and hold down a full-time job? Surely, “Paul, Bi-vocational Pastor” must be a misprint. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and have been the great missionary preacher he was. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and written approximately half of the books in our New Testament. Surely, Paul could not have worked a secular job and proclaimed the gospel in all the locations he visited. Yet he did.
Defining success is a huge undertaking. It will affect your values. It will affect your emotional health. It will affect your happiness.
Do you ever feel compelled to think outside the box? A few days ago, I felt burdened to minister to a man, who is suffering with severe health issues. Due to my schedule it appeared almost impossible to fulfill this task. My mind went into overdrive and I thought outside the box. I ended up buying my friend a hamburger and visiting with him, over lunch.