Today I pass my 22nd year pastoring the same congregation. This is really an answer to prayers offered long ago as Gwynne and I walked around our seminary campus. As we were finishing our time of ministry preparation and seeking God’s direction, we asked the Lord to lead us to a place where we could invest our lives with a people and where we could grow together in the obedience of faith. First Baptist Church Gonzales (FBCG) has been an answer to that prayer.
Serving as a pastor of a local congregation has been a rich and fulfilling experience that has brought me great joy and a sense of God’s pleasure. I have never been bored, and the call to rise each morning and get to the task at hand has never been in question for me.
As John Piper quipped, in his work, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, “God loves a cheerful pastor.” Piper’s adaptation of 2 Corinthians 9:7 has been like a well-driven nail into my thoughts and attitudes about local church ministry that has served me well. At this point in my journey, I am more energized than I can ever remember for Christ to receive his rightful glory in his church and among the nations.
However, there have been times in ministry where I have wanted to quit, times that were not joyful, but excruciating. That feeling could be articulated as an impulse to move to Montana and work at McDonalds. Those moments have always been short-lived for me, and I have come to see that the pain in ministry has been God’s sanctifying hand chastening and conforming me into the image of his Son (Romans 8:28-30). (more…)