What I tell every would-be pastor.

What I tell every would-be pastor.

would-be pastor    One of the greatest opportunities I feel like God has consistently given me, is the chance to speak life over many young adults (typically men) who are considering pursuing ministry as a vocation. Frankly, I think every follower of Christ is called to full-time ministry, regardless of their career path. But God does prompt many of us (myself included) to something separate entirely – to be leaders in the church as a calling and a career.
Here are a few things I try to tell every individual person who is considering becoming a pastor, student pastor, worship leader, missionary, right-hand-man, or any one of a hundred different ways to lead in a church vocationally…

  1. Start where you’re at. If you can’t be faithful serving as a greeter or janitor in your current church, why would anyone ever expect you to be faithful in prepping for messages, counseling couples, managing finances, leading people smarter than you, or planning strategic campaigns?! “He who is faithful in little shall also be faithful in much.”
  2. Start discipling someone. I would expect this of anyone who considers himself a mature Christ-follower anyway. Find someone that you can begin pouring your life into. Don’t try to be their boss. Just try to nurture and encourage their relationship with God. Share of your own struggles and moments that God has used to draw you closer to Himself.
  3. Find a mentor. Just as you should be pouring your life into someone else, you need someone mature who can do the same for you. This helps you be aware of your own blind-spots, and reminds you that you have plenty room to grow as well (and you always will). And as you’ll see further on, you’ll need such a coach to encourage you.
  4. People will hurt you. I’ve had people I’ve invested my life into, walk away from me. I’ve had people that I’ve seen grow, suddenly abandon their faith. I’ve had others who have smiled and nodded during my preaching, who then trashed me to others behind my back. You can do everything right by people, and some will still mistreat you. Love them anyway.
  5. If you can be fulfilled in life doing anything else, do it. This was counsel I received a hundred times by a variety of sources by the time I stepped onto the stage of ministry. And they were all correct. The price you pay emotionally, spiritually, relationally, financially, even physically at times, is greater than you could possibly imagine. I don’t know anyone “succeeding” in ministry who isn’t covered in scars and bruises. You will be no different.
  6. God doesn’t waste pain. Whatever you go through for the Kingdom, whatever hurt you endure, whatever you trust God for that He doesn’t come through like you hoped, no matter the sacrifice or cost – somewhere else, God always eventually repays… with interest. Hang in there.
  7. It’s totally worth it. I’ve never had a second thought about why I’m in this for keeps. God ruined my life to do anything else the moment I got to be part of someone’s story of finding Christ. From that moment on, I was done for. No matter the cost, I had to give everything I am to being a part of more stories of God’s redemption in people’s lives. I accept the scars. They pale in comparison of knowing Christ and seeing Him at work. Besides, when I compare my scars to His, I’m reminded that I’ll never out-give my God.

I’m not sure if that encouraged or discouraged many of you to pursuit ministry, but if you’re considering it, someone needed to tell you. If God is prompting you, and you accept that calling, you will join countless thousands whose lives have also been ruined. Let’s build the Kingdom together!

Blessings,
Pastor John

PS. And if that is you, look me up and shoot me a message. I’m always glad to pour into one more person.

Choose to be an Optimist

Choose to be an Optimist

We typically categorize people’s overall perspective into one of three point-of-views: Optimist, Pessimist, and Realist. You get the idea, “The pessimist says the glass is half empty, the optimist says the glass is half full…” and so on. My observation is that people generally look down on being a pessimist (which is in itself, a pessimistic statement), think the optimist is naive, and that the realist is generally the best perspective to maintain because this is objective and factual. Someone who is “a realist” sounds more intelligent somehow.

The truth I have wrestled with concerning this, is that there appears to be far more Biblical instruction to be an optimist (Phil. 4:8, James 1:19-20, Pro. 17:22, Phil. 4:13, John 15:11, Psalms 31:24, etc…), than a pessimist, or even a “realist.” And by the way, I also notice that most people who say “I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist,” are actually just pessimists with a fact to support their negative outlook.

Now, it’s important for me to say that I’m not advocating a mindset that sees the world through rose-colored glasses. I do not believe that we are suppose to ignore known facts. A true optimist, and I argue a mature follower of Jesus, sees the good, bad, and the ugly, and decides to keep a positive perspective anyway. Isn’t this what Jesus meant when He told us, “In this world you will have troubles. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, emphasis mine)? We’ve got plenty to be optimistic about…

We serve a world-creating, light-speaking, water-walking, grave-robbing, sin-forgiving, hurt-healing, life-giving God! Yes, it might be Friday, and Jesus has died a humiliating death on public display. But Sunday’s coming, and He’s about to blow the doors open on a borrowed tomb and show His glory.

Don’t lose heart over your circumstances. Believe God is going to come through even if you can’t understand how right now. Believe the BEST! Choose to be an optimist. It’s less stressful anyway.

Blessings,

John

Ten things I never learned in Bible College.

Ten things I never learned in Bible College.

  1. Pastoring is far more than preaching and having good theology.
  2. Performing exorcisms on technology is routine.
  3. My most significant impact will happen with my smallest audiences.
  4. Doubt, insecurity, pride, and jealousy are constant battles of leaders.
  5. The significance of my personal prayer life could never be overstated.
  6. God forges every leader through the fire of trials – and it will hurt.
  7. The uniqueness of every person demands tailor-made discipleship.
  8. If you’re not in way over your head, you’re not deep enough yet.
  9. Where God leads, God sustains. Always.
  10. My wife would play such a huge role in my ministry by holding me accountable, encouraging me, doing behind-the-scenes work, and speaking life over me.

My Personal Devotions: Mark 6

Mark 6:1-13

Jesus left that part of the country and returned with his disciples to Nazareth, his hometown. 2 The next Sabbath he began teaching in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. They asked, “Where did he get all this wisdom and the power to perform such miracles?” 3 Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him.

 4 Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” 5 And because of their unbelief, he couldn’t do any miracles among them except to place his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 And he was amazed at their unbelief.

   Then Jesus went from village to village, teaching the people. 7 And he called his twelve disciples together and began sending them out two by two, giving them authority to cast out evil spirits. 8 He told them to take nothing for their journey except a walking stick—no food, no traveler’s bag, no money. 9He allowed them to wear sandals but not to take a change of clothes.

 10 “Wherever you go,” he said, “stay in the same house until you leave town. 11 But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.”

 12 So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. 13 And they cast out many demons and healed many sick people, anointing them with olive oil.

My Thoughts:

  1. People underestimated Jesus, some will underestimate me as well (v. 1-2)
  2. Proximity to life change does not equal personal life change (v. 4).
  3. My faithlessness limits God’s willingness to work through me (v. 5).
  4. Jesus was consistent with what he taught (compare v. 8-9 to Luke 12:22-31).
  5. Don’t be discouraged by the people who won’t listen to me (v. 11).
  6. God will make my successful in everything He has called me to (v. 12-13).

Blessings,

John

From my personal devotions: Psalm 112

From my personal devotions: Psalm 112

I started this blog to give people in my church, family, and friends in ministry a means to better connect with me, and hopefully (more importantly) with God. Along those lines, about a week ago, I thought that it might be a good idea to start sharing some of my thoughts straight out of my personal time in God’s Word with my blog viewers. There’s nothing particularly special about what I think, of course. But I hope that as I try out this newer idea that it could serve as an encouragement to many of you, and perhaps for some viewers who may be unsure of where to start in the Bible for your quiet time with God, this can be something that you do with me.

Psalm 112 –

Praise the Lord! How joyful are those who fear the Lord and delight in obeying his commands. Their children will be successful everywhere; an entire generation of godly people will be blessed. They themselves will be wealthy, and their good deeds will last forever. Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous. Good comes to those who lend money generously and conduct their business fairly. Such people will not be overcome by evil. Those who are righteous will be long remembered. They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless and can face their foes triumphantly. They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor. The wicked will see this and be infuriated. They will grind their teeth in anger; they will slink away, their hopes thwarted.

My Observations:

  • Joy, fear of God, and obedience all go together. (v. 1)
  • My children’s generation will be affected by my obedience to God. (v. 2)
  • When I walk with God, I have light even in dark places. (v. 4)
  • 3 Words describing those who walk with God: generous, compassionate, righteous. (v. 4)
  • Bad stuff still happens to righteous people (v. 7), and
  • by the grace of God, they inevitably win anyway. (v. 8 )
  • God deals with my adversaries for me. (v. 10)

Blessings,

John