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Humble Beginnings

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Humble Beginnings


1CO 1:26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. [27] But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. [28] He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, [29] so that no one may boast before him. [30] It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. [31] Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

Pastors At Risk

If I wanted to drive a manager up the wall, I would make him responsible for the success of an organization and give him no authority.  I would provide him with unlear goals not commonly agreed upon by the organization.  I would ask him to provide a service of an ill-defined nature, apply a body of knowledge having few absolutes and staff his organization with only volunteers.  I would expect him to work ten to twelve hours a day and have his work evaluated by a committee of 300 to 500 amateurs.  I would call him a minister and make him acountable to God.

from Pastors At Risk - written by a discouraged pastor.

You might be a preacher's wife if:

1. people frequently ask you if you play the piano

2. people look at you strangely when you wear slacks

3. you're the last one to find out when you have dinner guests

4. you're the last one to find out when you're someone else's dinner guest

5. you're the least informed, most frequently asked person in the church

6. the pastor "asks" you each week what you thought of the message

7. you tell the preacher each week what you thought of the message

8. you work in Jr. Church or nursery each week because you don't play the piano and you've already heard the message

9. you're the only person in the church who knows what the preacher really thought about the Seniors choir cantata

10. you think that your pastor is the greatest preacher in the world

Some things that we share together today relative to the call of God:

1.       For most of us it was God’s idea.  I never asked to be called - on the contrary, I ran away from it as hard as I could.  I surrendered to the call because I ran out of options.  If I had know then what I know now, I would have asked to be called but to me, when I surrendered to His Call I was making a conscious decision that I would never have many of the things in life that I wanted.

2.       I never took myself quite so seriously back then.  There was that element of zeal on my side for the surrender brought spiritual victory into my life.  There is nothing greater than that sense of fresh victory in your life – when you gain the upper hand.  I couldn’t imagine getting paid to do something that I loved doing.  To think that I could spend all my time working for God and the affairs of His church.

3.       Whatever God’s criterion was, I met it.  I am not always sure what He looks for but He saw it in me and He called me.  The greatest credential in the world is that knowledge that He picked me.  I met the criterion and so did you.  When you wonder about the job you are doing and your personal effectiveness – don’t forget that.

4.       There has never been a time when I have surprised God.  Did it ever occur to you that nothing occurs to God?  You haven’t done anything in ministry that has surprised Him.  You have never manifested any particular talent or strength or ability that was not 100% crystal clear to God when he touched you and tugged you to 24/7 ministry.  You have no weakness regardless of how glaring it may be that He was not fully aware of when He called you.

5.       While it is inexcusable to accept and ignore our weaknesses, claiming that, “That’s just the way that I am.”,  it is far worse to ignore your strengths.  I believe that more than anything else our effectiveness is diminished in this way.  As we build on the seed of strength and our latent giftedness, we build greater hunger for further development and accomplishment.  Too often we waste time lamenting over our failures or the negative comments that we hear from others and we begin to accept the negative press as worse than an observation of what is current and present in our lives and we accept it as a sentence for the duration of our ministry lives.  God called you for a reason that only eternity may reveal and God helping us we need to march forward in that knowledge.  Don’t copy others, be the person that He has called you to be and fight in your strengths.  Shed the armor of Saul and pick up the sling that you never thought could be of value in the service of God and use the expertise that you have developed for the glory of God.  There was an army of men unskilled with the sling who waited 40 days for a sharp shooter to come along.  But he was busy with more important things.  They were scheduled into David’s priority list as a “D” or an “E” item and this little slingsman dispatched the bully from Gath.

My counselor has finally forced me to face the fact that I am a failure in my ministry.  Permit me to list my evangelical demerits.

   1. I have never been to the Holy Land.  I mean, not even as a visitor, let alone as a tour guide.  I wince whenever I see a "Go to the Holy Land!" ad in a religious magazine.  My wife has even stopped buying kosher wieners because they make me feel convicted.  It's terrible.

   2. Every program I've started has failed.  Our "Evangelism Explosion" didn't explode: it gave an embarrassed "pop" and rolled over and died.  Finis.  Kaput.  I attended a "Church Growth Seminar", and while I was gone, six families left the church.  No explanation -- they just up and disappeared.

   3. The refugee family we tried to sponsor refused to come. The last I heard, they were seeking asylum in a Chinese restaurant in St. Louis.

   4. Whenever I try "Dial-a-Prayer", I get a wrong number, and it's usually a funeral home or a chicken carry-out place.  I tried "Dial-a- Meditation" the other day, and the tape broke after the first sentence, which was: "So things aren't going well today?"  It's frightening.

   5. Board meetings.  You should attend them -- because nobody else does.  And I get the wildest excuses: "The dog was sick," or "I had to change the light bulb in the garage," or "My wife needed both cars." I always mimeograph agendas but nobody is there to use them.  My wife uses them for grocery lists.

   6. Our church teams never win any games.  Baseball, basketball, volleyball, shuffleboard -- you name it and we've lost it.  The town Little League champs challenged us and won.

   I am thinking of sharing all of this with our denominational leaders but they are never around when I phone, and all their letters to me are addressed to "Occupant".  I have been told that failure could be the back door to success, but the door seems to be locked and I can't find a key.  Any suggestions?

   -- Christianity Today

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