“A curious thing happens to us when we get a taste of God. It happened first in Eden and it keeps happening. The experience of God – the ecstasy, the wholeness of it – is accompanied by a temptation to reproduce the experience as God. The taste for God is debased into a greed to be God. Being loved by God is twisted into a lust to God-performance. I get a glimpse of a world in which God is in charge and think maybe I have a chance at it. I abandon the personal presence of God and take up with the depersonalized and canny serpent. I flee the shining face of God for a slithery world of religion that gives me license to manipulate people and acquire godlike attributes to myself. The moment I begin cultivating the possibility of acquiring that kind of power and glory for myself, I most certainly will want to blot out the face, flee from the presence of the Lord, and seek a place where I can develop pride and acquire power.” (Eugene Peterson in Under the Unpredictable Plant)
Ligon Duncan does a phenomenal job answering the question, “How can I best support my pastor.” He identifies 5 things:
- Pray for your pastor.
- Attend worship weekly.
- Thank your pastor for being a faithful shepherd.
- Befriend your pastor.
- Support your pastor’s family.
I have been in full-time vocational ministry for almost 10 years. Though I am still young (34) I don’t necessarily see myself as a young pastor anymore. I wish I had read Zack Eswine’s words when I started and I’m thankful to have read them today! If you are a young pastor just starting out in ministry, please take a few moments to read his advice and let it soak in:
“As you enter ministry, you will be tempted to orient your desires toward doing large things in famous ways as fast and as efficiently as you can. But take note. A crossroads waits for you. Jesus is that crossroads. Because almost anything in life that truly matters will require you to do small, mostly overlooked things, over a long period of time with him. The pastoral vocation, because it focuses on helping people cultivate what truly matters, is therefore no exception.” (Zack Eswine in The Imperfect Pastor)
“The inner action of prayer takes precedence over the outer action of proclamation. The implication of this for pastoral work is plain: it begins in prayer. Anything creative, anything powerful, anything biblical, insofar as we are participants in it, originates in prayer. Pastors who imitate the preaching and moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets’ deep praying and worship so evident in the Psalms are an embarrassment to the faith and an encumbrance to the church.” (Eugene Peterson in Working the Angles)
This past Sunday I announced to our Crosspoint Community Church family that we would be leaving for me to take over as Lead Pastor at North River Church in Parrish, Florida. Here is the letter I read to our church family on Sunday:
It is with mixed emotions that I stand before you this morning. In June of 2012, I began serving as your pastor. The 3.5 years since have only served to confirm that God was in our coming here. You have been a loving, supportive, and gracious congregation. It has been a great joy for our family to live life together with you, to worship with you, and to serve alongside you these past years.
But now the time has come for us to say goodbye.
Last Sunday morning, I preached at, was voted on by, and was offered the position of lead pastor at North River Church in Parrish, Florida. We have been talking with this church for several months, and it became clear, as we continued in the process with them, that this was where God was leading us.
As I result, this morning I offer my resignation as the pastor here at Crosspoint Community Church. Our last Sunday here will be December 27th and we will transition that next week.
Even though we struggle with strong feelings of grief over having to say goodbye, we are excited about what God wants to do both here and in Parrish in the years ahead. As we have experienced God’s hand at work in our leaving, we can also trust that he will provide the right man to come and faithfully serve here for the cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We love you. And if you will allow it, we will leave Crosspoint Community Church feeling as if we have a forever-family in Dublin, Georgia. Thank you for loving Janie, Anna, Leah, and myself. We feel blessed to have been a part of this church family. Thank you for taking a chance on me, knowing that I had never been a senior pastor, and allowing me to serve you over the past 3.5 years. God has done incredible things…to Him be the glory!
I want close with the words of the Apostle Paul, in Philippians 1:27-28, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”
Thanks for your prayers as we make this transition!
Last night I had the chance to talk with Henry Neufeld, my publisher, about my book Parent-Driven Discipleship. If you have a spare hour in your day (or you are just really bored) take some time to watch the interview. Would love to hear your thoughts!