As pastors, our job is to take “our” ministry into the promised land. We all work hard at taking the youth that Jesus has entrusted to us from where they are when we get them to where God wants them to be. But where is that? The Promised Land. The place that has an over-abundance of milk and honey. The sweet place. The place that makes it so that you can finally rest and relax as you enjoy the work of your labor.
But here’s what hit me this morning. Moses, arguably one of the most impressive and amazing leaders the world has ever seen, never reached the Promised Land. The first 40 years of his life were spent in Egypt, getting the best education money could buy since he was considered royalty. The next 40 years, watching sheep. The last 40 years, leading the complaining and critical Israelites through the wilderness, never to arrive in the Promised Land.
Here are some principles to keep in mind as you continue to shepherd:
1. “NORMAL LIFE” IS PREPARATION FOR CHRIST’S CALL. I can guarantee that Moses was not think about how he was going to be chosen by God to deliver his people from the oppression of Egypt. His first 40 years were spent in luxury, learning the culture and being given an education. But I can almost guarantee that those first 40 years taught him what he needed to take on Pharaoh during his last 40 years.
2. THE BEST WAY TO LEARN HOW TO SHEPHERD IS TO WATCH SHEEP. For 40 years, Moses learned what it took to keep sheep going in a certain direction. He learned what it meant to protect and to provide for them, and to lead sheep wherever he wanted them to go. Some, I’m sure, would bite him and become stubborn at times, just like the Israelites would do as he lead them. Be prepared for the sheep to bite. It does hurt, but you are called to lead. But the best way to prepare yourself to lead others is to learn from those who have lead before and follow their lead. You learn how to lead sheep by leading sheep.
3. YOU MAY NOT REACH THE PROMISED LAND. We all want to know that we have made an impact on eternity. We want to be successful in ministry. However, here’s my questions: how do you gauge success? By what standard are you successful? When do you know that you’ve arrived? I’m thinking that the key to our success in ministry is our faithfulness to do what God has called us to do. Some people will walk into a ministry where they experience amazing results. The reality is probably that they walked in and took over after someone else laid a great foundation. Some others will not – only inching their way forward as if the wilderness is swallowing them. The key is this: stay faithful to the call that God has on your life. Whether the wilderness or the Promised Land, our faithfulness should still be the same because the same God is God over all.
Hang in there. Be faithful. Be obedient. Stay reliant. And watch God do what only he can do. Of course, you may not get to go in and see him do it this side of heaven, but I bet he’ll show you when you when you see him face to face what he did through you.