We all know things are changing. When we deny change, we have to deal with other concerns, like rigor mortis.
Change always brings anxiety. However, those who are accustomed to progress know that change is inevitable. As uncomfortable as change makes us feel, we do not have the luxury of waiting for perfect conditions before we do something. We do not need more commentators and pundits, armchair quarterbacks who watch from a distance; we need more participants, more players. We need men and women—old and young alike—who admit that what we have may be imperfect, but who, nevertheless, are still committed to staying in the game.
Choose to be confident about the future. I choose to see the future as a preferred place. I anticipate great things tomorrow, and next week, and next year. I choose to live in hope, not fear. The future cannot be subordinated to our memory of an ideal past. The past does not have superior standing due to its chronological priority.
The future is always bright for a Christian minister. The gates of Hell will not prevail against the church. God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Greater is He who is in us. These and many other promises bring me great hope! The success of the church is not rooted in its infallibility; the success of the church is rooted in the power of God! God wants to do great things even more than we want to experience great things. It really is an alignment issue: if we align ourselves with God’s purpose, success is guaranteed.
Choose to have faith in younger ministers. I hate skinny ties and low-rise trousers. In my opinion, wrinkled clothes are a disgrace and a complete fashion disaster. I would not be caught dead wearing shoes that turn up at the toe like a court jester’s slippers. But when I was their age, I was never fond of Brother Urshan’s suits.
When I see young people get an opportunity, I should not think of all the ways they are unqualified. I should not assume they only got the opportunity because of who they know. I should not think they do not deserve the opportunity or try to diminish the impact their ministry may have on my own life. When younger people get an opportunity, I need to celebrate with them. They need to hear me shouting from the bleachers, pushing them, promoting them.
I fear that too often our real motivation in resisting our youth is our own insecurity and jealousy. We masquerade as if we are concerned about preserving and protecting truth and tradition, when in reality, we may be only defending our turf. Power is a stubborn addiction.
Choose not to be cynical. Disappointments are inevitable. Working with people is sure to lead to disappointments as we watch people make bad choices and fail to heed godly council. However, we cannot afford to allow cynicism to rule our thinking. We must believe that people want to be saved, that people will follow when effectively lead, and that it is a privilege to serve in ministry. Ministry is not a bottomless pit. It is not a quagmire of burdens and hopelessness. Ministry is a wonderful vocation in which we witness the transformation of lives by the power of grace. If people were perfect they would not need ministry.
Similarly, we cannot become cynical about the fellowship of ministers of which we are a part. When I do not understand, I choose to believe the best and refuse to fill in the gaps with cynicism. I choose to believe there is no hidden agenda oozing out of World Evangelism Center. I choose to believe our elected officials have been elected because a majority of my brethren agreed they were qualified. I choose to believe my neighboring pastors want revival. I choose to believe there are good explanations for circumstances I do not understand. I choose to believe I am no better or worse than any of my ministerial colleagues. The church is not crumbling, and I am not the only one holding on to truth. If the majority seems to be going off in some strange direction, there is a good possibility I have lost my way.
Choose to respect our heritage. A good heritage never becomes irrelevant. People who disrespect their heritage cut their own legs out from under themselves. I choose to celebrate my heritage and pay proper respect to those who have gone before me. Without the sacrifices of former generations, I would not have the opportunity to write this article. Men and women I never met made tremendous sacrifices to pave the road I walk. Although some of the things they did may seem odd today, much of what we do today would not have worked for them. The progression of methods and technology in no way diminishes their genius. They were gifted, called, and enabled by God’s gracious anointing.
It is easy to honor the dead; the challenge is to honor the living. We need to pay honor to pastors, leaders, mentors, and those who walk before us. They are not irrelevant. It is true that some of the elders may not fully understand or appreciate the ways of the younger ministers, but that does not give us license to disrespect or disregard them. If they had not preached to us, we would not have been saved. If they had not prayed for us, we would not have made it this far. If they had not laid their hands upon us, we would not have been ordained into ministry.
It would be easy to fritter away the hours worrying about things that are changing. I would rather devote my life to things that do not change. I am staying in the game.
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