A few years ago, I had a “revelation” while reading 1 Samuel 15. I ran across a post I had written a little over a year ago on YouVersion, talking about some of my thoughts on this eye-opening experience. I don’t know where you are in ministry, if you are in ministry at all or if you have never struggled with the same thoughts I have, but I wanted to repost my thoughts from that experience on my blog. I hope that if you have ever struggled with some of the same questions I have, this will be helpful to you in your life and ministry.
I am a pastor at a church. I want my church to grow. I want my church to impact our community. I want to lead my people to greater realms of spiritual growth. I want to make an impact on the world. I want people to see my church and say, “Man, he sure has that church on the move.”
Then I read 1 Samuel 15 today. From my ecclesiological perspective, the church is the Kingdom of God. Now whether you take that stance or not is a topic for another day. As I read this chapter some very interesting things came screaming off my screen, right into my face. Namely, it’s not “my” church.
I have gone to conferences. I have listened to honored and powerful speakers tell their stories of success. I have read their books. I have bought their CD or DVD material. I have downloaded their .pdf’s. I have done everything I can to emulate and practice the very things these other highly successful pastors are practicing. Maybe if I can do it just like them, my church will have the same impact in the world and on our community.
Then my church doesn’t grow that week. Nobody comes to know Christ that day. I take another row of chairs out of our auditorium because so many people are gone and that extra row just makes us look more empty. I get depressed because I can’t seem to get the church going. There is no momentum. I’m doing just what the big guys said. I am doing all the things they suggest. I have read all the books. And nothing. Not a single good result in sight. What is wrong with me?
What I have missed is something that I should not have missed. “My” church isn’t on the move because I have forgotten to obey God. I am making lots of sacrifices. I am working hard. I am burning myself out. But I am doing it all for naught, when God is not involved. I have sacrificed at the altar of mega-church (not that mega-churches are bad, in fact most of them are amazing and full of great people). I have sacrificed at the altar of the “next big thing.” I have sacrificed my relationship with God for that of a book written by a mere human being. I have missed the point.
It is better for me to obey God. It is better for me to know God. It is better for God and me to be on the same page. I need to get into the same rhythm as God and that’s when amazing things will happen. If I don’t, maybe God will remove “my” kingdom from me. Maybe, just maybe, I need to realize that it’s not my kingdom at all. I’m just a temporary steward of it.
God, forgive me for leaving You out of my plans!
Forgive me for assuming You bless my efforts!
Forgive me for trying to do it on my own!
Does this apply to everyday life outside of ministry?
How does this principle (revelation) change the way you view your life?
Or does it at all?