I wrote the following about four years ago. Humility is just as needed now in my life as it was then. Therefore, I thought this was worth sharing again.
This coming May will mark my 20th year out of seminary. This June will be my 20th year serving as a local church pastor. My, how the time has flown.
As those two “anniversaries” draw closer I have found myself congratulating myself for being such a faithful shepherd all these years. Just think of all the experience, wisdom, maturity, and godliness I have acquired over these two decades. Yes, God is pretty lucky to have me on his team.
It was in the midst of this delusion that God gently, yet firmly tapped me on the shoulder, restraining his laughter (hopefully), and shared with me that I wasn’t quite ready to be canonized.
The lesson I needed to learn? Yes… you guessed it… humility. It seems that I was sharing what I “thought” was a personal/private email with a friend stating my opinion on something. In reality, I was sharing that opinion with a wider audience due to a mixture of technology and my stupidity. As providence would have it, I included my District Superintendent on the list.
Now, what I communicated wasn’t sinful (unless you view stupidity as a sin), but it was foolish and definitely embarrassing. And, it seems, it was an opportunity for God to emphatically let me know that I needed to wake up and smell the coffee. He wasn’t (isn’t) done working on me yet. Ouch!
Another lesson I learned was from my District Superintendent, a pastor farther down the road of grace and ministry than I. He too was gentle, yet firm in his response to my blunder. He was also more than gracious. That too humbled me in a very positive way. I’m actually grateful for the experience… but don’t get me wrong… I don’t want to repeat that experience or anything else remotely similar to it for a long, long time.
The greatest irony in all of this is that lately I’ve been thinking a great deal about how I might be used of God to shepherd shepherds.
One of my great joys is being a pastor. I thank God daily for calling me into ordained ministry. Very few things bring me as much joy and pleasure.
Another ministry that has blessed me more than I can possibly express over the last eight years has been leading a group of young pastors on their way to ordination. I’ve developed meaningful, and I believe, lasting, relationships with these folks over the years. I thank God for the opportunity. I’ve been able to help and guide them, but have also learned much from them as well. Though I have recently stepped down from that “official” position, my desire to come along side to encourage and work with young shepherds of souls has increased greatly.
Thus, it has been in the context of brainstorming on that subject that I was dramatically reminded that I’m very much on the same journey as they. I’m perhaps a little bit more experienced, but not necessarily wiser.
Both the Old and New Testaments teach us that God disciplines those he loves. I’m a recent recipient of a holy spanking… a hard lesson learned. It hurt, but I’m grateful for it. My prayer is that I will be changed by it.
Grace and Truth,