So, 100 days has gone by and the Lord has allowed me to pastor some of God’s favorite people. The church and community have been an overwhelming blessing to me as a person and leader. I believe you cannot go forward without first pausing and acknowledging where you are. Following the weekend where we celebrated both pastor and people, and installed me as the pastor of Congdon Street I went to the Mountains in Vermont. In that critical time, I was able to spend some time with my father, The Lord Jesus Christ and hear him. In that moment I rejoiced over what was, rested in what is, and recognized what is to come. Below are a few lessons that God reminded me of as I rested that prayerfully can help another Pastor in your restful seasons. (Pause, if you haven’t taken a moment to rest…do it. Seriously. Your church needs you to.)
1. Listen for Directions.
Throughout biblical text the prophets moved after they paused and asked the Lord for Directions. Where to go, who to speak with, who to associate with etc. One of the important places that God spoke was through other people. To keep the prophets humble, he spoke through the people the prophets served. I’m a millennial, I make no apologies…but Google can only do so much. In my first 100 days I learned the importance of listening to the people for the directions of the church…and around the city…and grocery stores…and where to shop…you get the picture. A leader who is not willing to believe that the Lord will give directions through others is a leader who isn’t among the people. This isn’t my church; this is OUR church a joint effort. The stories that are shared through directions can make or break your journey. Young preacher and Pastor, listen. Please. Listen. You don’t know all of the answers, but you can ask some awesome questions! Church members who are reading this, what you say and know matters so much! Please keep sharing with your pastor!
2. Prayer must guide your decision-making.
Friends of mine who have participated in the movement of our Church online have asked, “Justin, why are you doing so much? “and, “Justin you are moving too fast.” My response…I know…But God keeps telling us to do it. In all honesty the only thing that I added to our congregation was what the Lord said to do in prayer meeting my third week. From that moment the Lord has called out gifts, blessed our community, engaged gifts and talents in the congregation. God. Did. It. All. Because. All. We. Did. Was. Pray. Every opportunity has been prayed for, every decision has been prayed over, and every pew has been prayed for. Pastor, your church will only go as far as your prayers. I love talking to my Father God, My wife and I love talking to our Father God, Congdon Loves talking to our Father God. I believe we are the showcases of what happened when we make our petitions known and he inclines his ear. (I call it the Jesus lean)
3. Family has to be first.
I love my wife. So…So…So…SOOOOOOO much. Like she’s fine like aged wine. (The labels are super cool) I love spending time with her. I admire her beauty; I love having fun intentional conversations with her. I love talking about things she cares about. I love family. As we anticipate our first child, I’m going to love him/her with everything. With that I realize that no matter what sermon I preach and decisions we make, if I become deathly ill tomorrow, my wife will be at my bedside every single day. Family is here before you have something, family will be the only thing after you have something. Not only did I communicate it, I have spent intentional time-sharing with our congregation that she is my Number 1 and only wife. (The Church is God’s wife…I am not committing adultery that OT God will rain down some stuff) What I love is that from that have come family ministries for men, women, children, and young adults. While we don’t voice it all the times, we love our families, so lets do ministry together! It starts at home!
4. Participate in your miracle.
Pastor you are more than a preacher. There are too many pulpits filled with preachers, not a pastor. Jesus asked the man with a withered hand t stretch out his hand. He had to participate in his miracle. I must participate in our congregation’s life. I love each second. There are so many talented and gifted people in the pews of each church; the pastor cannot have an agenda that rubs against the agenda the Lord planted into the people in the pews. Pastor, be touchable. Be approachable. Be present. Be lovable. Be present. Be available. Your sermon is never that Good. God is going to bless your congregation and ministry. You must stretch out your hand. Congregation, when the pastor stretches out their hand, don’t remind them how withered it is, participate in the miracle of healing!
5. Take time to celebrate each other.
I love Nehemiah! Nehemiah taught us three great lessons. Work hard. Pray Hard. Celebrate Often. I begin every conversation with a question, “What is one Good thing the Lord has done in the past 7 days.” It’s awesome! We celebrate what God is doing with each other every time we get together. The same carries over to your congregation. Take the time to celebrate each other. Did a young person accomplish something? Did a senior accomplish something? Did someone come to Sunday school every Sunday for a month that normally didn’t come? If you don’t’ rejoice over the small items, you will miss the big blessings.
6. Surround yourself with 2-3 Pastors/Spiritual Leaders to cover you.
Pastors need pastors. Not just any pastor. Pastors who are working at a pace similar to you with likeminded goals. I know a lot of preachers and a lot of pastors. I have two that I trust with hard questions. Just two. Pastor/preacher, surround yourself with people you trust with hard questions that you know will not give you an answer that you want to hear, but the answer you need to hear. I thank God for my spiritual leaders that allow me to wrestle.
I pray this agitates some things in you to accelerate your position in the kingdom to move forward at the pace the Lord has called you to move at. Know this, if the Lord has called you…he will complete the work. The church is not your side chick, side hustle, or wife. Its God’s wife. We are entrusted to take care of her until he comes to take her back. He told us how to love, what to say, and how to assist her to be everything he called her to be. Repeat it…recite it…and move forward.
May God Bless you in this journey.