So, it’s been a quick year in some sense and a long one in many others, but here are 4 things I’ve learned this year:
I’m not as smart as I think I am
Being a Pastor for a short period and seeing the scope of human nature in other people and in myself, I’ve come to realise that I don’t have this thing figured out. This year I deleted a number of posts in my blog because as I read over them I realised I had changed and no longer subscribed to the thoughts I shared…. That was scary.
In a way, it’s a good thing. Because I’m bitterly aware of my own capacity to hold strongly on to a view today, and consider it inappropriate the next, has driven me to my knees.
James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
God knows everything. So rather than draw from my own ‘well of wisdom’ I run to Him. He tends to lead me in ways that my own mind finds disorienting, but He is always right.
- The way I see people
- The way I judge situations
- The ideas I have
And so on…
…could all benefit from doing what David did regularly…enquiring of the Lord.
2. God is a lot more forbearing than we would like to think
John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
God’s love has no horizon. We all know this…but experiencing it for yourself is staggering. It changes the way you treat people. I am convinced that if we were as patient with people the way God is with us, our churches would grow. Church was never meant to be a sterile environment for perfect people.
All sorts come in, and they need to know that God loves them even when they fail. I’ve have learned this year that we (Christians) don’t tend to treat people the way God treats them.
3. People need to serve God for themselves
I wish I could be saved for some of the folks in our church. I really do. I feel for some in many ways. I wish I could fight their temptations for them, pray for them, have zeal for them and carry them on my back, but alas I’m not God, my back is weak, my arms are short and I have my own battles to fight.
This means that I cannot force people to pray, come on outreach, witness or live clean. I can’t make folks come to church or attend revivals or give more. Some people respect the position of Pastor enough to hear me out and go along with the program, but I don’t want folks to function, I want them to live. To do everything they do for GOD because they want to.
Col 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
It’s a great feeling to have a full house on a Sunday and know that every single person is there because they want to be there, not because they were under compulsion. This can be a long process…because some folks don’t get ‘it’ straight away…but when they do?! You know it’s God.
4. Prayer is the missing piece.
You’d think as someone who preaches about prayer, I’d be an expert on it. You’d think that after 13 years of pursuing Christ, prayer would come naturally…but no. I’ve come to learn THIS YEAR, just how crucial prayer is based on the following:
a. It’s the most attacked thing in my life.
I can organise an outreach, international impact team, write a sermon, compose and perform music etc with relative ease, but when I decide to pray, it never works out the way I imagine it. My conclusion is this…the devil goes after what threatens him most. He is not intimidated by our organising…he is intimidated by our agonising.
b. It’s the most positive thing in my life
A sermon I heard changed my life. I started to attend morning prayer at a local PH church because they had more time, and I was surprised that I was able to pray for just under 2 hours. I was so desperate for God and so hungry for change it poured out of me…it felt like 15 mins.
Since then, I’ve been addicted to spending time with God. I have a long way to go, and a lot to learn about the prayers and faith that move mountains. The prayers of old, that stopped rain for 3 years, caused fire to come from heaven, healed the sick and raised the dead, but the journey starts at least.
“No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; lots of pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.” Leonard Ravenhill
I want to take these things into the next year and start strong. Maybe if Christians were more reliant on God, more loving, gave people the space to work out their own salvation, and prayed like they believed God would respond, we would have less bickering amongst ourselves and unite against a common enemy and see the world come to Christ.