This month, I began my fourteenth year with the Crestview Church in Waco, Texas. Amazing! I have been with this church for thirteen years of my life (and theirs!). When I reflect on the complexities and challenges of pastoral ministry, longevity is a plus. Yet, the other day I saw something that disturbed me. I read an article in which the author said that those ministers who are with one church past twenty years are very often averse to risk. Do you think that is true?
I do have some years to go before I reach my twentieth year. Yet, I need to be honest and admit that I am nervous about the possibility of "settling." I've seen church leaders do this in churches. At first they have hopes and dreams about what God could do through these people. Now, after being around for a long time, they have settled. Why? Maybe they are in a seemingly secure situation and just don't want to upset their security. Maybe they have just chosen an easier path.
Not Jesus--he never settled. Read the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to his call to discipleship as he heads toward the cross (three of these death predictions are in the Gospel of Mark). Jesus never settled. After all, he was fulfilling a purpose larger than himself.
Have you ever known someone who settled for so little?
- The A-B student who settles for C’s.
- The young woman who settles for a guy who does not treat her very well.
- The man who will not put out any effort to upgrade his skills. He settles for what he learned years ago.
- The young person who is not willing to put out the effort to excel athletically and settles for getting by.
- The young couple who is interested in missions but is not willing to put out the effort to raise the money. They settle for staying home.
- The man or woman who used to teach Bible classes, serve as a volunteer to help the poor, or serve as a life group leader but no longer is willing to do anything. He or she has settled.
- The minister who at one time was full of hopes and dreams for his ministry but who now has settled and has few expectations of brighter days ahead.
Some of us procrastinate and put off the work of God saying, “The time is not right” (Haggai 1:2).
You may remember in Haggai that the Israelites were not rebuilding the temple as God desired. They said the timing just wasn't right. Yet in the meantime, they built their own "paneled" houses. These people had settled.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life procrastinating. I don't want to just settle for an easy life that is centered around my self-interest.
Unfortunately, some people spend years making excuses that keep them in their present rut. Do these sound familiar?
- It’s not time to start this ministry.
- It’s not time to stop this ministry.
- It’s not time for me to serve in this role.
- It’s not time to go through this process.
- It’s not time to preach about this or that.
- It’s not time for me to volunteer.
- It’s not time for me to give the way I know I should.
- It’s not time for us to make these changes.
- It’s not time for us to challenge people more.
- It’s not time for us to risk.
- It’s not time for us to raise the level of expectations for our church and for our leadership.
And on and on. But--it doesn't have to be this way.