This pastor’s journey has been filled with a roller coaster of adventures and emotions. I never would have thought that I would climb the hills (small mountains) of Nepal on a mission to help earthquake survivors deal with their emotional trauma. Nor did I imagine that God would allow me to serve in so many wonderful churches that have taught me more about His word, myself, and what ministry is all about than all of my years in seminary and college. As other pastors have said, “I have been to the mountaintop,” and “I have walked through the valleys.” I have welcomed new lives into this world, guided some into the new life of the Kingdom, and wept with families of those who have moved into their eternity. I have had the privilege of praying with mighty prayer warriors, and I have met with powerful people in politics. And just this morning, my loving Heavenly Father reminded me that all of these things mean nothing. I have looked at the diplomas hanging on my office wall, and I have remembered the honors, awards, and certificates that I have accumulated throughout my life, and as the apostle Paul said, I count them as nothing more than refuse. The only thing that truly matters in my life is that He is my loving Heavenly Father.
In my quiet time yesterday – in all honesty the first true quiet time in some time – God spoke to my heart as clearly as He ever has. Before I go on, I feel that I must address this statement. I pray many times a day every day of my life. I read and study God’s Word daily. But I go through periods in my life where I forget to “just spend time with God resting in His presence and listening to His voice.” I heard one man call it “wasting time with God.” Now, that sounds almost blasphemous, but what he was talking about is just coming to God with no agenda but to spend time with Him. I had never thought about that before, and I had never done that until yesterday.
Most people don’t know this about me, but I have a very powerful ego and quite often I think way more highly of myself than I ought. (Yep, me too!) At the same time, that powerful ego is very fragile and is constantly in fear of failure. I trust (too much, sometimes) in my intellect and abilities all the while terrified that I am not good enough. I heard that all my life from family members and teachers, and to this day I bear the emotional scars that cause me to crave affirmation from other people. For a man entrusted by God with the great responsibility of shepherding His flock, this is a powerful internal struggle that never goes away. And yesterday morning, in my quiet time, my loving Heavenly Father told me exactly what I needed to hear: “You are not good enough on your own, but I am good enough in you!”
I honestly believe that God created me to be exactly who I am – ego and all. My strong ego drives me to achieve when the spirit of procrastination and laziness start shouting, “There’s always tomorrow.” Most of the time, I do a pretty good job of balancing both sides, but the problem comes when I stop being totally dependent on Him – when I stop “wasting time” with my Heavenly Father. Those are the moments when my ego gets in the way, and I start thinking and acting like I can do it all by myself. During those periods in my life, I typically start feeling entitled – like I deserve it. (Yep, me too!) That’s when God has a way of getting my attention and reminding me that everything I am and everything I have is because of Him, and I have a lot. I am blessed with a great family that loves the Lord and is actively serving His Kingdom. I have possessions that 90% of the world does not. I serve as the pastor of the greatest group of believers I have ever known, and I am having the best time of my life right here in Dadeville, Alabama! Yes, I have a lot, but I own none of it. I am but a steward for a brief moment in history of the blessings that flow from a loving Heavenly Father who is always ready and waiting for me to crawl up in His lap, put my arms around His neck, and listen as He tells me how much He loves me and how truly great I am because of who He is!