Brought to you by Chuck Lawless five-fold Ministry Contribution for equipping of the saints – REFLECTIONS ON CHRISTIAN LIVING AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP FROM AN OLDER PASTOR AND PROFESSOR: PART 1, 2 and ,3 – When I almost Quit Ministry and I didn’t

Brought to you by Chuck Lawless five-fold Ministry Contribution for equipping of the saints - REFLECTIONS ON CHRISTIAN LIVING AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP FROM AN OLDER PASTOR AND PROFESSOR: PART 1 and 2

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Wednesday 31st August 2022

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Brought to you by Chuck Lawless five-fold Ministry Contribution for equipping of the saints – REFLECTIONS ON CHRISTIAN LIVING AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP FROM AN OLDER PASTOR AND PROFESSOR: PART 1, 2, and 3

Chuck Lawless.. August 29th and 31st 2022

Contribution from https://chucklawless.com/

Brought to you by Chuck Lawless five-fold Ministry Contribution for equipping of the saints - REFLECTIONS ON CHRISTIAN LIVING AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP FROM AN OLDER PASTOR AND PROFESSOR: PART 1 and 2

Note: Chuck Lawless is professor and senior associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

PS We are one in Christ Jesus – Let’s build bridges to our individual denominational islands..Alone, we wither away and become imperfect reflectors of Christ body..the leg is not the arm, the left hand and the right hand need each other whilst washing dirty hands to do a proper job of cleansing and that second hand might not necessarily be in our local assembly – God’s Eagle Ministries – GEM 💎

PS We are one in Christ Jesus - Let's build bridges to our individual denominational islands..Alone, we wither away and become imperfect reflectors of Christ body..the leg is not the arm, the left hand and the right hand need each other whilst washing dirty hands to do a proper job of cleansing -  God's Eagle Ministries - GEM

Just a few days ago (August 18), I celebrated the day the Lord saved me and called me to preach 48 years ago. I actually started pastoring seven years later at age 20. This week, I’ve been reflecting on all these years—so I am using this week’s posts to share my thoughts.

Please add your own reflections in the comments section so we might continue to learn from each other.

1) All of us have a place in the Body of Christ, and all of us are responsible for being faithful—but none of us is God’s gift to the kingdom.

I was arrogant enough to believe the latter as a 20-year-old pastor, but I’ve learned much since then. I know now that all of us are important in God’s work, but none of us *is irreplaceable.* God’s church and God’s work go on without us—even when we in demonized pride are convinced otherwise.

2)There’s a reason Paul mandates that new converts not be pastors/elders (1 Tim 3:6).

See #1 above for my own sinful example. I was not a new convert, but I was certainly so green and undiscipled that I was not ready for the task. That God worked through my ministry at all in those years – and He did – was solely because of His grace. I surely wish I had recognized that fact back then.

Some things that seemed so clear when I was a young pastor forty years ago aren’t always so clear now. Please hear me: I am NOT suggesting that somehow years of experience lead us to compromise the inerrant, sufficient, and clear Word.

What I am suggesting is that sometimes my zealous, youthful legalism back then missed the gospel that the Bible proclaims.
It’s easy to get “amens” from the congregation when you’re preaching against somebody else’s sin; it’s not so easy to see the beam in our own eye. It’s easy to blast pornography while lust resides in our own heart, to preach against others who don’t sacrifice when our own giving is only out of our excess, to condemn non-loving husbands when we may not want our spouses to describe reality in our homes. We simply have to deal with our beams.

3)Worship style preferences are often just that—preferences – and they change with the seasons of life.

I attended a church during my teen years that sang only hymns. They were new and exciting to me, even if I sometimes wanted something a bit snappier. I later grew to love praise choruses (particularly those straight out of the scripture).

See also  Baptism in The Holy Spirit and Activation Prayers

Now in my 60s, I miss the hymns I learned when life was simpler. Each season of life has brought change for me.

Continuation part 2

AUGUST 31, 2022 WEDNESDAY WORDS: MY FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON CHRISTIAN LIVING AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP FROM AN OLDER PASTOR AND PROFESSOR: PART 2

I hope you read the first installment of this series on Monday. If so, here are the next of my reflections at this stage of my ministry (again, in no order of priority):

1) Prayer is the most difficult spiritual discipline to develop and maintain—and a weak commitment to prayer has often resulted in weak churches in North America.

Prayer’s hard because:

(a) seldom has anyone really taught us to pray;

(b) we naturally default into independence and self-dependence before we turn to God in prayer;

(c) it doesn’t take much heavenly silence for us to give up on prayer.

Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters around the world who face persecution march forward into the darkness on their knees.

2)Too often, the high points of our spiritual walk are more past tense than present-tense.

We had more zeal for Jesus when we were first saved. We were sponges for the gospel, daily more filled with wonder than we were the day before.

Fast forward, though, and our zeal becomes routine . . . normal . . . powerless. Only when we intentionally fight against this tendency in the power of God will things change.

3) In our brokenness and weakness, we find our strength in Him (2 Cor 12:10).

We know that truth, but I’m convinced we cannot know it experientially until God takes us through the desert.

As long as we are functioning in our own strength, we cannot expect to operate in the power of God.

When God lovingly breaks us, however, His presence and power are sweet indeed.

4)When we have to work hard to identify what the Lord has recently taught us, we’ve probably stopped growing—and there’s no place for that in our journey.

I’ve had those moments where it felt like I’d “arrived” and had little left to learn. I’ve had them enough, in fact, that the Lord has sometimes dramatically and painfully taught me otherwise. Today, I’m learning again how much I truly need God, just how complete His forgiveness is, and how much I need Him to continually deepen my heartbrokenness over non-believers.

5)Christianity without the church is incomplete, even though the church is messy.

I get it when someone says to me, “I follow Jesus, but I want nothing to do with His church.”

_We’re often conflicted, misfocused, shallow, and hypocritical, yet – and this “yet” really does matter – God loves His church anyway._

Like the apostle Paul in his relationship with the messed-up Corinthian church, we are to thank God for each other (1 Cor 1:4-9) and love each other deeply (1 Cor 16:24). In God’s unusual economy, we who are messes gain strength when serving with the family of other messes.

My Further Reflections on Christian Living and Church Leadership from an Older Pastor and Professor: Part 3 +When I almost Quit Ministry and why I didn’t

By Chuck Lawless on Sep 02, 2022 01:00 am

Today is the final installment of reflections on ministry. If you missed the first two segments, you can find them here and here. I pray these thoughts encourage you.

  1. Every one of us needs someone who knows us completely, asks us the hard choices, pushes us to be holy, and loves us even when we fall. We need this person not only so we can confess our sins (Jms 5:6), but also because God created us with a need for other people in our lives (Gen 2:18). To my male readers: we need not only our spouse (if we’re married) but also a male friend who, in the words of Kent Hughes, understands “the serpentine passages” of our heart.[1] To try to follow God on our own is a failing endeavor.
  2. We North American believers could benefit from learning from our brothers and sisters around the world – and vice versa. When other believers include “learning how to face persecution” in their basic discipleship strategies because they know the opposition they face, we can learn from them. Believers for whom prayer is in their DNA—because they love God and need Him—have much to teach us. We have much to teach others, too, but it wouldn’t hurt us to be learners more often.
  3. Christian living must be a balance of DNA commitment and intentional choices. Here’s what I mean: ideally, our daily faithfulness just naturally occurs (DNA), but strengthening the DNA usually requires developing healthy habits first. For example, I want to read the Word, pray, and evangelize naturally every day—but to get there requires I set aside time to read, find a time to pray, and intentionally reach out to non-believers. Daily living is both DNA and intention, not either/or.
  4. Rightly understood, the call to shepherd God’s people is weighty indeed. We will give account for how we “watch over souls” (Heb 13:17). Put on top of that the serious task of preaching, the grief of watching people surrender to sin, the heartache of burying people you love, and the pressure of standing for truth in an increasingly immoral world, and you get a sense of this calling. We need to pray for each other.
  5. God is faithful. Always. Period. Sometimes I’ve thought about quitting ministry but didn’t (as this previous post shows). I’ve learned that It really is the case that, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread” (Psa 37:25). Our God is a promise-keeping God who holds us in His hand even when we wander in the wilderness. We cannot walk so far that He does not see us and keep us in His care.
See also  Self - Confrontation and Self - Defense

What other reflections come to mind for you?

Times when I’ve Thought about Quitting – Published a year ago – 

  1. When I knew my personal walk wasn’t all it should have been. Letting down in spiritual disciplines, failing in battles of temptation, and struggling with discouragement and depression cost me any sense of peace in my ministry calling.
  2. When I made leadership mistakes that wounded other people. I never want to hurt others, but it’s happened—and sometimes because I made a dumb leadership move. When you do that, you wonder about your ability.
  3. When I lost nights of sleep because of internal church conflict. I’ve still not learned fully how to lay these burdens at God’s feet, but bearing the burden was especially difficult early in ministry. Fatigue from the weightiness of church pain can be overwhelming.
  4. When church members were judgmental, unkind, and ungodly. When you’ve seen enough of that attitude, it’s easy to wonder about other vocational options.
  5. When I got wrongly engaged to someone God didn’t intend to be my wife. I corrected that problem by ending the engagement, but I offered my resignation to my deacons at the same time. If I couldn’t lead my own life well, how could I shepherd them?
  6. When I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually burned out. I thought I was responsible for doing everything and being everywhere, and I worked hard toward that end . . . until stomach ulcers slowed me down.

Why I Didn’t/Haven’t Quit

  1. God’s calling on my life. I can’t get away from my personally undeniable call to preach God’s Word. It’s etched into my heart and mind.
  2. God’s people who’ve strengthened me. When I’ve struggled the most, God has always sent someone across my path to encourage me and turn my heart toward hope again.
  3. God’s reminder that even mean church people are created in His image. Sometimes they’re unsaved, actually—but that’s all the more reason to love them.
  4. God’s world that needs the gospel. When I see 4+billion people with little access to the gospel today, my heart breaks. Quitting, it seems, would be selfish.
  5. The prayers of God’s people. I have prayer warriors who pray for me every day. When I remember those gifts, I know I can’t give up.
  6. Glimpses of God’s work and glory. I’ve written about the need for “glimpses” before, but they really do mean a lot to me. Just a glimpse of God’s power is enough for me to press on.
See also  How Jesus might describe a mustard seed of faith today!

How about you? What’s kept you going?

Brought to you by Chuck Lawless, five-fold Ministry Contribution for equipping of the saints

PS We are one in Christ Jesus – Let’s build bridges to our individual denominational islands..Alone, we wither away and become imperfect reflectors of Christ body..the leg is not the arm, the left hand and the right hand need each other whilst washing dirty hands to do a proper job of cleansing and that second hand might not necessarily be in our local assembly –  God’s Eagle Ministries – GEM 💎

PS We are one in Christ Jesus - Let's build bridges to our individual denominational islands..Alone, we wither away and become imperfect reflectors of Christ body..the leg is not the arm, the left hand and the right hand need each other whilst washing dirty hands to do a proper job of cleansing -  God's Eagle Ministries - GEM

Shalom!

Amb. Monday O. Ogbe
God’s Eagle Ministries

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