A little over a quarter of a century ago my wife and I entered into full time ministry. I served several years as an Associate Pastor with a variety of portfolios in both small and large churches, and as an itinerant Revivalist for several years speaking in churches, retreats, conferences, and the like. I have also served as the Lead Pastor of a local church for almost a decade.
My call to ministry came when I was a Junior in high school, a call that was a simple statement from the Lord saying, “Follow Me everywhere I will take you.” With His call came a drive within me to follow Him and to do what He led me to do and to be. That drive is just as strong today as it ever has been.
So, in 2006 when my health had reached such a debilitating and chronic stage that I couldn’t maintain a schedule of any kind, we resigned from the pastorate. The church family was incredibly, affectionately, and sacrificially patient with me, but I knew that they needed a Pastor who was present and actively engaged every day.
Stepping away from full time ministry was the most challenging thing that I have ever experienced. The divine drive within me was still just as strong as ever, but my health (at age 41) was beyond my control, and beyond the control of doctors.
For the first time in my life I understood what almost every minister experiences when they have reached the point to retire. The drive in the heart does not retire, and that is difficult to bear.
What I miss most is Pastoring a local church over a long period of time. In that setting I found the honor and privilege of working with and observing people as they are transformed by God one day, one week, one month, one year at a time; to be near when their children are born; to be there when they have surgery; and yes, to be there at their loved one’s funeral.
People are what I miss the most. It was the wonderful drive that Christ planted in me and then nurtured and cultivated over time that kept me going through the good times and the tragic times.
Now, I am in bed about 18 hours per day. The pain and fatigue of my body make socializing a challenge most days. I too am experiencing what it is like to be housebound most of the time like so many seniors that I used to visit in their homes, hospital rooms, and care facilities. I think I always had empathy for them, but now I can say I know from experience what it is like.
These are things I really miss about full time ministry among people. But, don’t feel sorry for me! I am blessed beyond my comprehension by our Lord. His grace and provision have not taken my pain away, and it hasn’t taken my ministry-drive away. What His grace has provided is a deep awareness of His presence. He has more of my intimate attention than He ever has had, since I spend my days mostly with Him and Him alone.
Presently I am 50 years old, I have been ill for 15 years and mostly in bed for a decade. I do not wish anyone to have my same health, but I pray that EVERYONE can experience the Lord to at least the level that I am privileged to experience Him every day. I am blessed more than most!!
See you at the altar of prayer, my friends!
#PastorsTip #Ministry #Retire #Driven #CallOfGod #Pastor #Evangelist