When I first became the pastor of the church that I have led since 2005, a trusted friend and co-laborer said to me, “You might be a preacher, but you are no pastor yet.”
I did not completely understand that vote of confidence, but after these 13-plus years, I think that I now understand.
In John 10, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” In 1 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul said, “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” I have read and known these verses for years, but I now know what they mean, in the core of my being.
One thing that I have tried to get the people of Mission Community Church to understand is: what are you willing to do so that the gospel will continue to go forth? We talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus, but how much are we willing to be inconvenienced or stretched to be that? I have come to realize that there is very little that I will not do, if the Lord is leading, to further the gospel.
While trying to be a good husband, son, father and granddaddy, I am learning to be a pastor. God used the Coast Guard and the fire service to teach me how far I would have to go for people I did not know until our lives crossed. I have been a caregiver to three different people. Serving these three has not been easy, but has been a great way to show the love of Christ. What concerns me is: how many people out there have no one?
As I think about the shepherd that left the 99 to go after the one, I realize that the flock that I am called to shepherd may not all be found at the church that I pastor. The spiritual well-being of every person who God brings across my path is my calling. Being a help to people means that I must first be a good listener, hearing their struggles and working to help them overcome those struggles, while sharing Christ amidst it all.
Let me share what happened recently. A person who crossed my path shared with me that she had no air conditioning on three of the hottest days of the summer. I told her that I knew a guy, but when I called him, I learned that he was in the Midwest, not returning any time soon. I decided to go and try to help with the assistance of the expert by telephone, my wife holding the light. It took about three hours, but when we left, it was working. I now have two AC repairs and one AC troubleshoot under my belt. I ask again, what are we willing to do to be the hands and feet of Jesus?
I have never been called to lay down my life for another, but I realize that when I became a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ that I died to self anyway. Luke 9:24 states, “For whoever desires to save His life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.”
I tell people regularly that, as God’s word says, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” The Lord gives us numerous opportunities to serve others. The question is, what will we do with those opportunities?