Pastor, have you considered your future lately? What does God have for you? When is the last time you really prayed about God’s future for you and your family?
A Personal Testimony
I was raised in Texas. When I was a young pastor, I had no idea what my future would be. Quite honestly, I still do not.
When I surrendered to God’s calling to come to my church over twenty-seven years ago, I would have never dreamt I would be here this long. Growing up, it seemed our small church had a new pastor every two or three years. Frequent transition was all I knew.
Therefore, it is quite amazing that I find myself at this point in life, having served the same church for twenty-seven years. Years ago when I surrendered to ministry, I did not imagine much at all about my future. All I knew was that I wanted to be where God wanted me.
A Basic Conviction
I have operated by a basic conviction throughout my ministry: I want to go wherever God wants me to go, anytime, anywhere, and any place. After all of these years, I still live by this conviction. I am drawn to one basic thing: I want to be where God wants me to be.
I have told this to other Pastors, and I mean this with all my heart: When you surrender to God’s calling to go to a certain place, always live like you are going to be there your entire life; at the same time, always have your bags packed, ready to follow God’s calling for your life. Jeana and I still live with this zealous desire to follow God and His calling for our lives. We truly believe we have, and that His calling has been, and is at this time, to Northwest Arkansas.
How a Pastor Should Navigate Toward His Future
I want to challenge each Pastor and minister of the gospel to keep these things in mind as you navigate toward the future God has for you:
1. Be 100% willing to go anywhere, at any time, to do anything God calls you to do. Are you willing? When He calls, will you follow Him? Will you operate so much by this conviction that it does not matter if the geography is your preference, the timing is to your advantage, or the ministry is not what you have ever seen yourself in as a God-called minister?
I am reminded of my friend, Dr. Jeff Crawford, President of our Cross Church School of Ministry and Teaching Pastor of Cross Church. Dr. Crawford is a man with an earned doctorate degree. He is gifted, articulate, educated, and called. He could be in the academic realm elsewhere or be serving as a Pastor of a large church, just like he was a little over one year ago. Yet, God has called Jeff to be here. It seems all of his gifts, training, and passion merge in this position with us. Just think what it would be like if Jeff had held on to his position so closely that he would have refused the calling of God to come here. Thanks, Jeff and Julie, for following God’s calling. Thanks for being 100% willing to go anywhere, anytime, to do anything God calls you to do.
Will you, Pastor?
2. Live with your “YES” on the altar.
When is the last time you placed your “YES” on the altar? I mean, you said, “God, whatever it is you want me to do, my answer is YES. Whatever you are calling me to do, the answer is YES.”
There is something liberating about living with your “YES” on the altar. Oh yes, I have been somewhat sobered by this statement when there have been moments I sensed God was about to do something new with me. I mean, while exciting on one end, it is extremely sobering on the other end.
It may do you well again, Pastor, whether you are eighty or twenty-eight, to kneel down one day this week and pray: “Lord, just one more time, I want to live with my YES on the altar. If you ask me to do anything other than what I am doing, I yield willingly and my answer is YES.”
3. Be willing to stay as much as you are willing to leave.
Pastoral ministry is hard. It is much easier, especially in today’s world, to leave after three or four years than it is to stay. People are hard to please. Many times, we are like football coaches: Not only are we judged by our wins and losses, we are also judged and scrutinized by the way we win.
My point: It is easier for a pastor to leave than to stay. Pastor, some of you may need to stick it out where you are. God will use it all to work in your life powerfully. Sometimes, God does something fresh in us, not when we leave, but when we once again realize that He wants us right where we are.
As you navigate toward your future
As you navigate toward your future: Pray, believe, and trust the Lord. As I have said many times through the years: I am so glad God loves me so much that He protects me from myself when I don’t know how to protect myself and my future. Yes, God is faithful. You can trust Him.