Paul wasn't merely a "professional." Paul developed intense personal relationships with the churches he planted, the leaders he put in place, and the people of the churches. Paul wasn't hired by a church board or assigned to a church by the denomination. When Paul served in a church, he formed deep and lasting relationships. When Paul moved on, whether driven out of town by a mob or drawn forward to a new assignment by the Holy Spirit, his heart remained anchored to the people and the place.
I remember the time it first actually hit me that there are "professional" pastors and evangelists and missionaries. I know, I'm slow! But there was a specific experience that really hit me. My friend Mervyn Tilley and I were visiting the pastor of a church in a community on the East side of London. Somewhere in the conversation, the pastor said, "I've only got four more years until I can retire. I don't much care for this church or its people, but I can stick it out until retirement!"
I'm not saying that people in ministry shouldn't retire. There are good reasons to retire at the appropriate time: There's the need to develop and release younger men and women into leadership, the need for someone with youthful vision and boundless energy to keep things moving ahead, and the need to slow down enough to become a mentor and encourager to others. There are lots of good reasons to slow down! I think I'm saying that for someone who serves and leads God's people, it's really not what's on their business card, but what's in his or her heart. It's not the position you hold, it's the people and churches you hold in your heart. May God give us a generation of leaders who will step aside appropriately, but stay in the game; Men and women who will train and release, then mentor, support, and encourage the next generation to surpass their own accomplishments!
Father, Thanks for the daily burden! May it adjust and adapt, but never cease! Amen!
Reading: 2 Corinthians 11; Proverbs 7
28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger? (2 Corinthians 11:28-29 NLT)
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