One of the “catch phrases” for me this year is to pursue maturity, not opportunity in my ministry. I’ve asked God to help me with this, and He has certainly taken me up on the offer. The tough part is that maturity, or growth, or development (whatever you want to call it) seldom comes easy, and seldom comes the way I want or expect it to. It usually boils down to a decision on my part about whether to be bitter or better, often after a decision has been made on my part for me. Not always fun.
This is the crucible I find myself in almost daily. Frustration, complaints, discouragement, and even disillusionment can easily settle in my heart. Thing is, these seem to be what God is using to develop me. 50 lbs of frustration dumbells here, 225 lbs of discouragement bench pressing there, and max reps on the disillusionment jump-rope to boot.
Strangely, as these tensions have mounted and grown, opportunities have presented themselves in greater scope than I’ve ever had before. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. And though I’m honored at the invitations and opportunities for ministry and exposure that have come, I’m finding such less satisfaction in that compared to reading/studying the Bible, spending time in prayer, and being a good husband to my wife. Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity, because it’s those three things that have helped me weather and grow from the tensions of life.
I attach my faith in all these things to Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.” I’m really glad than hopping on planes to preach and lead worship doesn’t excite me the way it used to (though I’m always honored) because if that’s what gave me happiness, the lack of it would bring sadness. It’s like God all of a sudden becoming Santa Claus: “If you’re good this year, I’ll give you an OPPORTUNITY to preach in a huge stadium with tons of people!” As if that is what He wants me to derive my satisfaction from! Yeah right. It’s His message and His plan, not my message or my opportunity. My plan is to continue abiding in the Bible and prayer, and loving the people in my life as Jesus would want me to. That really makes me mature like nothing else can.