Introduction: The following testimony is written by Dan WIlliams, a friend of The Shepherd’s Connection. This pastor has remained faithful in spite of desertion by many faithful members, a bad economy, attacks by people he thought to be friends, a major debt problem, church conflict and criticism by fellow pastors. He is an example of faithfulness and he has remained true to his calling. – Tim Patrick
I guess I am hardheaded. It would have been easy, many years ago, to leave the ministry or change churches. There are two things that stuck in my mind and kept me from either of those options. First, we ministers get frustrated when members change churches (when things get tough) so why would I do that which I hate.
Second, I heard the noted Southern Baptist Pastor Johnny Hunt say, "Another church may look better than yours, but might have three times the problems." I knew I did not want that.
I do not see, in the New Testament, anything about changing churches. The problem is that in America we have created an environment where we accept it and think it is part of being Christian. What would you think if, in Acts 29, (which doesn’t exist) there was a story about Peter changing churches, being fired or sending his resume to the church at Corinth? As you follow the imaginary story how would you feel to discover that Peter floated his resume because times were tough, money was tight, leadership was nearsighted or for one of the many other excuses we use? You would think Peter took his eyes off of the prize.
When a church is not where it should be there is plenty of blame to go around. For instance, some may blame the pastor and/or staff for being lazy or selfish. However, the problem rarely resides with one person or group. We are the body of Christ and God has a reputation for using messed up people. I believe that ministry is hard because we are in a war against Satan. He attacks the church through our imperfections.
Another problem is that we are personality driven. We think we need a new personality leading the church in order to reach people. What we really need is the person of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. If pastors, staff and members would stick it out, with their current body of believers, work through the difficulties and ask God to build a spirit of unity---- God would get much done through a bunch of imperfect people.
I think one of the main reasons I survived is because I am the founding pastor. How are things at the present? I have a great church that has experienced its share of struggles through the last 19 years. However, the good times have been wonderful. I would have missed so many good times if I let the hard times run me off. I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in ministry, but I try to keep on going. Some days are easier than others and sometimes the hurts come too often, but it is not about this life. It is about the next. I choose to stay, serve and lead this congregation in God’s direction. He has navigated some pretty sharp, steep, curvy hills in the past and I believe He will do it in the future. So, I keep my hands to the plow.