I started this week feeling fruitless. I needed to write this blog, prepare a sermon for Sunday, and prepare a sermon for a prison ministry. None of the tasks came easily. The little productivity I squeezed out flowed like molasses. You know those weeks. Sunday is coming, and the sermon is not there.
As I drove to work, I pondered the fruitless stages of my life and asked myself the question: What does it take to rise above fruitlessness? I offer the following points. I even alliterated, for you preacher types. I hope my ideas will help.
I woke up this morning feeling a little glum in my view of people. Don’t be so pious, we all feel this way from time to time. People don’t live up to our expectations. People don’t stroke us as much as we would like. People aren’t as perfect as we want them to be.
Today I picked up a copy of John Maxwell’s book, “25 Ways to Win with People.” This book quickly refocused my glum attitude. I did a quick scan of the contents of the book and was reminded of the truth, “people are our business!” In short, the Lord reminded me to get over myself.
The past several years I have performed two jobs. I have served a church, as pastor, and I have served as a Director of Missions. As a Director of Missions, it is my pleasure to serve forty-three churches. There are times when the juggling act of fulfilling these two positions gets tedious.
Failure, this is not a word we relish. In fact, most of us avoid as if it were a disease. I would venture to say most of us would rather never hear or read the word again, especially if it’s being applied to us.
Have you ever seen a team that refused to play as a team? I once witnessed a basketball team that self-destructed because they failed to play as a team. It was predicted that this team would win a state championship. The previous year they had great success and won most of their games. At the end of the year they lost very few players.
A few months ago, we got a new puppy we named Lily. This puppy is so cute that I can’t stay upset with her on a long-term basis. I say that because she wakes me between 4:00 and 4:30 each morning. Most of the time I’m okay with this ritual, but sometimes I get a little frustrated. Between the puppy and my age, getting up early is not the problem it would have been when I was younger, but somedays her early risings are a little tough on me.
Back in the 70s a man named Randy Bachman wrote a song entitled, “Taking Care of Business.” The thought behind this song could be applied to many areas of life: take care of your job, family, health, or other areas needing special attention. As I pondered this idea I applied it to those who serve in ministry.
Several years ago Dr. Paul Meier, Dr. Robert Hemfelt and Frank Minirth wrote a book entitled We are Driven: the Compulsive Behaviors America Applauds! The book addresses the driven mentality that afflicts Americans. I experienced this first hand on a mission trip to Mexico.
Do you remember the last time you thought you gave a bad sermon? Last Sunday was one of those Sundays for me. If the truth be known there are probably many Sundays when our preaching is bad, but most Sundays we don’t recognize it. LOL!
Do you remember an occasion when God showed up in a special and unique way? My experience was a night visit. I had been serving as a pastor for approximately ten years when this occurred.
I was tired, discouraged, and burned out. In addition to these emotions, which pastors encounter on a regular basis, I was hurt by the loss of a large group of people from the church I was pastoring. The hurt was intensified by several people making disparaging remarks, as they were leaving the church. The disparaging remarks were like pouring salt into a tender wound.