Archive for September, 2012

What Matters Most?

Those words seem to be a hot button right now in some corners and understandably so—to answer what matters most necessarily means saying that some things matter less. If nobody cared about the answer to that question, we’d be in sad shape.

Having said that, at this current stage of life and ministry, my interest in the question isn’t primarily doctrinal—I’ve already made up my mind on that—but practical. I’ve served as the senior pastor of the same congregation for 23 years. Two of my four sons are married, the third away at college, and the youngest finishes high school this year (DV). I’m only 51, so if God allows, there is still a lot of time on the ministerial clock. I’d like, by God’s grace, to finish well.

Twenty plus years ago, as a young pastor, I remember watching a number of men celebrate significant milestones of ministry in one location (20, 25, 30 years), only to be asked to leave shortly thereafter (or to watch the church they had served for decades implode). I tried to figure out how that could happen, mainly because I planned, by God’s grace, to be around here long enough to potentially face those same kinds of circumstances. Now, I’m here.

So, asking and answering what matters most seems like an important endeavor to me. I don’t know all of the answers to each of those situations, but at least one answer was that I think the longer a man stays in the same ministry, the greater the potential to take his eyes off the most important things. Perhaps that happens due to fatigue; possibly because of distractions. Whatever the case, it is dangerous, both for the pastor and the congregation.

At the core of my value system is the local assembly of God’s people—it is the center of what God is doing in this world, so it should be the center of every believer’s life. Certainly it must be the center of every pastor’s life! But, my observation over the years is that there are a lot of competitors for the attention and commitment of believers, even pastors. Unless we are careful, conferences, associations, fellowships, outside ministry opportunities, discussion forums, and blogging all can distract away from what matters most. From time to time we need to step back and prune away what isn’t central, so that we can keep being fruitful in what matters most.

Clearly, for the past several months, blogging has not been what matters most to me. It’s not that I don’t think it is valuable or helpful; it simply has not been high enough on the priority list. Other things have mattered more. There has been a lot happening on the family and ministry fronts, but I think we’ve turned a corner and it is time to start writing again (or at least attempt to do so more regularly). I hope, though, that even what I write about will reflect more of what matters most and less of what happens to be the hot topic of the day.

These are great days to serve the Lord and there is important work to be done, most of which, for me, centers on a wonderful congregation known as Inter-City Baptist Church. I’d love to run everybody else’s lives and ministries, but I’ve got my hands more than full with my own. I’m sure that the Lord won’t ask me about anybody else’s ministry at the Bema, and being able to give a good account of my own on that day is really what matters most to me these days.

No Comments