What I’m about to write you is sweet and sour. I don’t know how God has been willing to hold on to me. Plus, it is a miracle I’ve lasted at Memorial Drive. There are several who wouldn’t walk across the street to hear me preach and I don’t blame them.
When I began preaching I was a bombastic soldier cowerfully hunkered behind a pulpit launching grenades of loud claims caring little for who got hit. Damage control was a challenge. I believe now I had a great misconception of what ministering to people through the Word could and should do. I didn’t believe so much in God’s power nor in people’s potential. We had shelved the passages where God works in the Christian’s life and, therefore, declawed Him of activity among us. To stir the flock, then, was pretty much up to my talent…..and I had none, but thought I did.
Of course the critics were many because legalists are fueled by feud. I was a tremendously arguable topic! Debate ensued as to my value, but I was of quite little. My sermons were about brotherhood issues. They were not about Life, Love, or Jesus. I preached Church of Christ but not Christ. I was constantly corrected, admonished, and rebuked. However, I wasted such kingdom time as I brushed it off as “They can’t take good preaching!” The madder some got the madder I got and we developed one gigantic contest of madness. That pretty much sums up my first ten to fifteen years of preaching....madness.
I began to realize I was not the super-star I pseudo-humbly assumed. I realized my weak knowledge of God was weaker than imagined. The world was in trouble. The church was in a mess. I was contributing to nothing useful. I needed to change (repent, I think the Bible calls it)….and did.
Today? I’m still changing. I’ve learned a few things; but fortunately for the church I now know I haven’t learned many things. Ministry is wild with opportunity to reach people of every brand and group. Jesus defies earthy boundaries and takes us with him. I’m so far behind I now get it that I’ll never catch up. Rather than bemoan my own ignorance and lack, I find pleasure in his skill. He is the great mystery of which I will never master. Yet, how much more fun and exciting to be knitted to a work grander and bigger than life. Count me in. I hope he and the church will continue to hold on.
I am grateful.