Saturday, June 16, 2012
Then and Now
Being an older and worn out preacher (a traditional phrase for describing retired Methodist preachers) gives one a different vantage point than the one I had when I was a younger and green-as-a-gourd preacher. When the ink is still fresh on ministerial credentials, it seems that ministry in the church is all about me. It is easy to think that enough effort will generate enough wind to make even the deadest of churches to rise and soar in the blue sky of ecclesiastical success. Those were the days when I was sure no one would nod off while I was preaching. Those were the days of being surprised when a former church did fine without me.
While good strong leadership is an important factor in the equation of church life, the years have helped me see that it is really more about us than just me. The truth is that whatever is accomplished in ministry happens as we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. The good done by my pastoral predecessors was the foundation upon which I worked and served. The good things which we counted as the things we did were the results of prayers prayed by the many who knelt in places of intercession through the years.
And, of course, the One who really is responsible for remembered blessings is the Holy Spirit. Our sense of what we have done often seems to make Him more the object of lip service than the divine dynamic which makes the real difference in the life of any church. It is amazing that He continues to bless given the credit really given to Him. It only goes to show it is more about divine grace than human effort.