Tag Archives: ministryImage
Ha! The last three years have been the humility lab class for me. I went from being general pastor of four churches and principal and founder of a school to… nothing. Criminals forced us to flee the mission field and return to the home church.
At the home church, I longed to serve and I yearned to make a difference, to help stoke the fires of revival. But so many missteps of mine only stoked the fires of resentment. I was asked to give up ministry and look for a secular job. Ouch!
It seemed like every ministry position was already filled by someone who was more qualified than myself. I tried Sunday school. I tried teaching in the regular school. I tried publicity. I thought my experience could be a boon for the church.
After floundering for a couple years, I finally found a ministry where I was heartily welcomed, where I didn’t step on any toes, where I could satisfy my hearts longing to simply be useful. I don’t want to be important but to do important work.
It was not my first choice of ministry. It was cleaning.
I kept secretly admiring the main cleaning guy, who unpaid got up early and stayed up late assuring that schoolkids and church members alike could enjoy spotless environs. Zach Scribner had a vision for cleaning and saving the church money. I had zero vision for cleaning.
But I wanted to help where I could make an impact. Zach never got a day to rest in — until now. He is overjoyed to finally get a day off. And that makes me happy.
Chatting, a brother said, “Working your way up in an organization always works.” And that’s when it hit me: I haven’t worked my way up, I’ve worked my way down. Serendipitously, I fell into Mark 10:44: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. Aim not to be chief but to serve.
Kneeling before a toilet bowl, I reflected that I was doing it for my God. I thought of many who would despise such labor, some of whom also kneel before a toilet bowl, not to clean, but to throw up… for their god, alcohol.
In any other organization, expect to work your way up. In the church, look to work your way down.
My brother made fun of us when he visited our mission church in Guatemala. Too many padlocks, he moaned.
But one extra little padlock saved us from getting completely robbed.
The thieves sawed through an iron bar to enter at the window probably at 2 a.m. They served themselves leftover coffee and ate breads. They were in no hurry. Guatemalan police are overrun with crime and work fewer shifts at night. No neighbors would interfer; they could get shot for that.
They took our keyboard and a few other things. But one small padlock on the outside of the door kept them from walking off with our school’s computers. I
guess they ran out of time because the $1 Chinese padlock was no formidable security. What they took had to fit out the upstairs window.
Sometimes, it’s the itty bitty things that save you. That little prayer — unaccompanied by fasting, with no fancy language — will make the difference. Don’t skip it thinking it’s a mere nothing. However short it may be, however unadorned, speak it to God with sincerity. That small “cheapo” prayer may be the single factor preventing the thief (the devil) from running off with everything.
Better than throwing salt on his wounds, better than mocking him, better than washing your hands of him, better than saying “He had it coming,” express confidence to the person who’s floundering. It will lift him out of his funk.
Sir Alex Ferguson believed in Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United forward had gone 9 months without a goal. Pundits were sharpening their knives: wash-out, has-been, flash-in-the-pan. Coach Ferguson, who’s had an extraordinary knack for winning teams, kept believing in Rooney until the mercurial players found his winning ways again — with a overhead backwards kick that left the world gaping and shut up critics.
Believe in someone.
You may “win” the rat race, but you’re still only a rat. You may get to the top of the crab pile, but you’re still only a crab. If you help someone out, you’ve made a friend for life. And that is worth more than pounding your chest and shouting the tired I’m-the-best rant.
It’s what Jesus did. While everybody hated the odious, turncoat tax-collector Zacheus, Jesus dressed him with dignity, sharing a cappuccino with him. While accusers had stones in hand ready to hurl at the adulterous woman, Jesus defended her and didn’t accuse her. He touched the leper, ate with prostitutes, hung out with drunkards. Jesus was really into the business of accepting people.
Give and don’t stop giving. And though you may be the most unloved person on the planet, if you give love freely, you will find 10,000 people at your funeral wanting to honor your memory.
- How to pray?
- Prayers of the Bible
Pastor Steven Fernandez had just broken the hinge on his car door. He was driving home with it roped up, and the cable for the clutch snapped, leaving him stalled in traffic — late at night, on the dangerous streets of Guatemala City. With some natives helping, he managed to get the Fiat home only to find a screw in one of his tires. Sigh!
Pastor Steven took over the Guatemalan work after I left the country. Unaccustomed to such Third World ailments common on the mission field, he is grappling with things he never experienced in America. Alas, poverty.
I remember passing through these kinds of nightmares. Roofs drip like a waterfall during thunderstorms. Water doesn’t come out of the faucet for weeks at a time. Power outages mean you keep candles handy (I preached through a power outage once holding a candle close to my notes!) Ah! The adventures of being a missionary! All this reminiscing is making me yearn to go back!
Amid hand-wringing and nostalgia, one thing is clear: All pastors need our prayers. As church-goers, we forget that pastors are even more in Satan’s gunsights than us. It’s typical for pastors to face hardships of finances, of family and of car breakdowns. We need to sustain them with prayer!
Don’t complain about some ill-spoken word from your pastor (he’s human too!). Pray for him. Pray for revival, for his family, for his checkbook, for his car. Remember what the Bible says: And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward. – Matt. 10:42 NIV.
If giving a cup of water nets reward, how much more so if you
give him a cappuccino pray for him!