As we noted last week in our services, the new role that I was given was to be focused on training and preparation for this next season in ministry. So this past week, I began to settle into a new role. As promised I want to give you (whoever you are - my Temple family, random visitors, old friends, etc.) the opportunity to see and hear the things that I am learning during this season of my ministry, so here goes:
First, I had a great lunch on Tuesday with one of our elders. He has 57 years experience in ministry, has been a great father and grandfather, a godly pastor, and has won the respect of our congregation. I sat down with Claude and, among other things, asked him for some advice. However, more than his responses (which were all challenging), I was struck with the notion of how privileged we are at Temple to have someone like Claude, with nearly 6 decades of ministry experience contributing to our elder team. He has been to me and our other staff pastors a constant source of encouragement and support. I found myself praying that God would allow me to see 6 decades of ministry and allow me to emulate Claude's commitment to extending a hand to the generation (or 4) behind him. What a great time that was.
Second, after teaching the OTC at Temple on Wednesday night, Thursday morning I rode to Davis College near Binghamton, NY to attend a Leadership Forum, a conference for pastors all over NY. The camaraderie shared among ministers of the gospel is special. Dr. Pedrone spoke on Ezekiel 22:30 and compared that to the needed spiritual leaders in our local churches, challenging us to scour our own congregations to find the men to disciple and mentor to stand in the gap. It was a confirming day for our team as we have talked at length about developing the potential leaders in our own congregation and have even begun that process as Scott, our Executive Pastor, has been working with a group of men who have expressed a desire for ministry. It is our conviction that the church is responsible for recognizing the Spirit's anointing on future leaders and for training, equipping, and empowering new leaders as the Lord directs.
Dr. Pedrone spoke about the "call" of the preacher and I was taken back to Oct, 1998 when, as a 20-year-old, I was confronted with God's desires for my life. While his "call" was different than my desires, I chose the reckless road and followed him. The minister's "call" is something that looks different for each person, but is equally foundational to all who experience it. I am thankful for the "calling" that God has placed on my life and look forward to following Him as He unfolds the full plan.
During the lunch hour I connected with an old friend of Temple, one of our first church-planting pastors, Larry DiNovo, who was gracious enough to give me some time to talk with him about ministry. Two things really stood out with him. #1, he cautioned me to invest considerable effort and time into ministering to and pastoring my wife as my first priority. If I fail to lead my family then I am disqualified from leading in God's family. #2, he encouraged me to forego violating the "law of process" when leading change. The leader is supposed to be out in front, but a good leader will work with his people to lead them through change, while giving them the time needed to observe the facts and ponder the options with him. I am appalled to think of the times in ministry that I have violated that rule. Good lesson to learn.
It was truly a wonderful first week. This week will be another round of intense study (Psalms, I'm writing a month-long series on Ephesians, Preaching on Sunday, 10/4, and our Elder team is reading a great book on the role of the Biblical Elder) and some meetings and phone interviews with pastors who have had long-term ministries. Please pray for me that God would teach me through these men who have given their lives in their churches. Pray for discernment as I study that I would sense the words that God would have his people to hear. And pray for the personal ministry of our Temple family - that God would use them to minister to their friends and families. Thanks. Check back often. God bless. Read up on Ephesians 1: 15-23 to be prepared for the message on Sunday.