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The One Thing

May 08, 2013

perservere

This is a blog for pastors and ministry leaders. It’s meant to be an open-hearted conversation about things pastors think and feel—hopefully a place to read and say, “Someone else experiences that, too.” With all the feedback and constant conversation pastors hear, we can start to feel a lot of dissonance about which priority must endure. What is the one critical, consequential, non-negotiable for a ministry leader? When the noise of life and strife resound with obligation, and our capacity reads empty when the demand measures full, we need to remember what cannot be forgotten—the ‘one thing’ that matters most. Try to stay focused today; maybe this is just for you.

I know my sermons need to be strong and biblical and interesting and challenging and helpful, but that’s not the ‘one thing.’ I know I need to love and care and support and encourage and strengthen and comfort, but that’s not the ‘one thing.’ I know we can’t neglect things being ‘decently in order,’ so I must attend to managing the budget, heating the building, and paying the bills—or more likely, making sure someone is on top of those priorities. We can’t run out of paper in the office or people to staff the children’s ministry or fail to plant flowers in spring and pick up leaves in the fall. The widows cannot be neglected or any of the seniors, or the youth for that matter, but none of these are the one thing.’ The single parents are a high priority, as are the needs of the poor in and outside our church family. Mail must be responded to in a timely fashion, and special services need a flare of creativity to fan afresh the flame of adoration to Jesus, at Christmas, at Easter, etc.—but are any of these the ‘one thing?’

Paul told Timothy, “Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). So in all this, I cannot neglect my own soul, my walk with Jesus, my personal sanctification, my marriage and family—all of this is very, very high priority, and the continuance of my ministry depends on it—but none of it is the ‘one thing.’

The ‘one thing’ is this: not quitting. Not getting downcast over my own shortcomings. Not getting disillusioned or drained by demanding need. Not getting tired of the repetition or thrown off by the constant variety of what we do. To be sure, we will wrestle with all of this amidst the great joy and privilege of serving Jesus Christ and His church. But never can we let any burden weigh so heavily or any pressure pound so relentlessly that we ever entertain, even at the corners of our mind, the idea of giving up. Keep serving the Lord, Pastor! Listen to others, friend and foe; learn from your mistakes; lean on God and those you trust, most and most of all. God is perfecting you, saints are praying for you, other pastors are pulling for you. Sons and daughters and someone you least expect, are all watching to see if Jesus sustains you. So whatever you do, today…this week/month…going forward …just this, one thingkeep serving Jesus Christ and His church.

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 3:13b-14)

 

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