Ten Things From Ten Years

This week has a lot of celebrations in my family. I stepped closer to forty by turning 36. Amanda and I celebrated 14 years of marriage. Amanda also inched closer to forty by turning 25 again. :) It is a fun week filled with thankfulness. There is one other milestone that took place; I celebrated having the privilege of being a pastor for a decade.

Typing it and saying it out loud seems so crazy! *Cue old sounding voice* I remember when I entered the ministry over 15 years ago, excited about teaching the young folk! Now I sit here writing about pastoring for a decade. My wife hit me up with a great question, "What have you learned in ten years?"

1. God gifts us on purpose and enables us with His grace! 1 Cor. 12:1-11 demonstrate how the Godhead was involved with our spiritual gifting. When I got saved, I didn't know I'd been given the gifts I have and how they'd be employed; it has been awesome to grow in them. Embrace, in faith, what He has given you and, by grace, employ it as often as possible in Christ's church.
2. God is always good. No matter what has taken place with whoever it has taken place, God has been faithful. He is patient and merciful to me, other saints, and to the unsaved around us.
3. I can trust the Holy Spirit. While my gifting and office call me to spiritual stewardship, they do not call me to run people's lives or make their choices for them. The Holy Spirit "does a fine job" of teaching, convicting, encouraging, and empowering- I don't need to apply for His job, He doesn't need my help.
4. When God is at work, the devil seeks to derail it. Satan can't make us sin but he does bring a tidal wave of temptations against us to entice us to indulge in. These temptations are often weathered by those who look for God's grace daily but are given into by those that are immature or weak in conscience; let's be on guard for our own hearts and the hearts of others.
5. My goal is to help develop the next generation of servants. The NT shows those in spiritual leadership developing others around them and allowing them to grow in their gifting. This growth isn't merely for the church we currently serve alongside in, it is for the future and whatever churches Christ has them be a part of.
6. My identity is in Christ. My value, worth, purpose, and identity are not wrapped up in being a pastor, how the church is or is not doing, or what other Christians or pastors think of me.
7. My trust must rest solely in Christ. My trust doesn't reside in other believers- even faithful, gracious ones. While I am trusting of them and enjoy ministering with them, my confidence isn't in their decisions, it is in Christ.
8. It is way too easy to become tunnel-visioned upon the vocal minority rather than be thankful for the faithful majority. There will always be those in the church who indulge in temptation or are struggling in their weak conscience. In the midst of their hurtful words or actions, I am reminded to be thankful for them and the larger majority who are walking in the Spirit.
9. A greater thankfulness for other churches and the family of God. I'm thankful for our church, but it is awesome to be a part of something greater than myself/ourselves.
10. There is no other entity on this planet like Christ's Church! In our new members class we talk about how the local church experience is like an imperfect slice of heaven while here on earth. We get to celebrate the risen Christ, use our gifts by His grace, develop accountable relationships, sing praise, give for the Gospel, grow in our faith, and accomplish our mission in the community. What. A. Privilege!

There many other great lessons and truths I'd love to share but these ten stick out to me. By God's grace, I look forward to the next two to three decades serving Christ as a pastor and many more beyond that as part of a church.

Pastor Paul