What steps will you take to finish strong?

Posted: December 23, 2009 in Relationship w/ Jesus

This question was asked of me during my ordination council interrogation. I was asked what steps I am taking to insure that I will be in ministry when I retire. Ever since I was asked that question I continue to think about it. What steps am I taking to continue to walk with the Lord, so that I will not fall away and have to leave the ministry?

I thought about this again today as I was reading my Bible. On my reading plan I am currently reading through 2 Chronicles. I am somewhat of a history buff so I like reading some of these Old Testament books, but I have noticed a recurring theme over the past few kings. In chapters 24-26 we meet Joash, Amaziah, and Uzziah. In each of their bios (at the beginning of each chp.) we find that each of these kings “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord…” However, we also find that they did not do what was right in the eyes of the Lord their entire lives, which ultimately led to their demise. Each of these kings started off strong leading the people rightly and following the ways of the Lord, but they ended up failing and facing punishment from God for their sin. Joash and Amaziah both went after and worshipped other gods, and Uzziah fell because of his pride.

Jumping forward to todays times we see a similar trend in our churches in America. Pastors start off strong in their ministries with a zeal for seeing people come to know Jesus and walk with him, but as time goes on they fall away. I have been told that 60-80% of the people who were at Seminary with me will probably not retire from ministry. This is an unofficial statistic but it is alarming to think that so many lose that zeal they had for the Lord, especially those who were leaders.

I don’t know any kind of a “7 Step Process to Staying in Ministry” book or manual that is available, nor do I think that one can be written because maintaining your walk with Jesus is not something that can be processed or put into a system. I believe that the way a person sets themselves up to finish strong is to daily seek the Lord everyday of their lives. This may seem cliche, but its true! We can’t approach the Christian life as a checklist where we force ourselves to demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit comes from knowing Jesus, and it is fruit that comes out of our lives naturally as we walk with him.

There are still spiritual disciplines that we must practice, but we must do them out of our love for Jesus and not out of a legalistic religious duty. This is a fine line and can be hard. I encourage all believers to read your Bible’s daily, spend time in prayer, memorize Scripture, have accountability from others who are walking with Jesus, and be involved in the ministry of a local church. These are essential, but when doing these ask the Lord to teach you what it means to love him with all your heart, soul, and mind. I would also encourage you to think about the question posed to me, “How will you finish strong, so that you never fall away from the Lord all of your days?”

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