Living Life in a Fish Bowl!

Gloria’s take on life.

25 years – really?

This month we will finish our 25th year at our current church.

Lifeway Research suggests the average pastor’s tenure in a local church is 3.6 years – not even 4 years – other research suggests between 5 and 7 years. Wow!IMG_20160201_095513_479In the beginning it looked kind of like this picture.  We knew we were on the road God led us to.  We were moving forward, but we couldn’t really see very far down the road.

Staying 25 years means we know what it is like to go through the fire and not leave.  We have witnessed the worst in people and we have seen the best in people.  We see babies grow up and become solid Christians.  Lives are being changed and God is at work.

Personally, I believe there are way too many pastors that leave too early.  Just like there are parishioners that get hurt and church hop, pastors can do the same thing.  The other side is true too.  Sometimes pastors stay too long.  Listening to God’s direction is vital.

I remember a time of great personal hurt that I begged God to move us on.  I wasn’t surprised that people could be so mean, but I had never had it so blatantly directed at me.  I know what the enemy was trying to do and later looking back I saw how God used it.  (Years later, I just happened to stop at a garage sale that this individual also stopped at – still being here allowed her to make amends and move forward.  I assured her I had long ago forgiven her, now she needed to forgive herself and accept God’s forgiveness.  I wonder how many ministers, leaving too soon, never get to experience this?)

For much of our time here either both of us or at least one of us has had employment outside of the church.  This is a challenge that is hard to explain.  It is doable but not easy.

Over the years, I have worked at seven different jobs outside of the church.  This was always out of necessity.   The church was doing what it could, but if we were to stay then additional money needed to come from somewhere.  God said stay and He blessed me with some great temporary jobs.

Yet, there would be times when I would find myself struggling with the demands of my current employment, the responsibilities at the church and raising our boys.   During one such time I was asked how long I had stayed at any one job, but I could not count the ministry.   What kind of a question is that?  My primary job is ministry.    I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for ministry.

Ministry is so much more than a job.   It is a calling.  It is my heart’s cry.  I believe that where ever you are, as a Christian you should be letting your light shine.  I just happen to be called to shepherd.

Col 3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” 

Ministry is so much more than a job but it is still a job.  What is the longest I have stayed at any one job?  As of this month – 25 years.  That is a real testimony to the power, love, and grace of God!

The danger of staying an extended period of time is to lose the freshness of what God wants to do.  How to avoid that is to guard your quiet time with God, make the most of opportunities that come your way, (most people know that if they come to me about a prayer need – I pray right then and there with them) be teachable,  and be transparent. Be real and people will want what you have — a relationship with the living God.

Whether it is your 1st year or your 25th year – take that step of faith.  It may look different each time but step out of the boat.

live out loud

What did we do on the 25th year of pastoring at our rural Iowa church?  In December we had our first service in a neighboring town.   We were either going to sink or walk on water.   We believed that God was opening the door and we were stepping through.

There is a reason why younger people do most of the church planting.   Adding a third service to our weekend, especially one that includes set up and tear down is a bit hard on this body.  My husband keeps telling me that God’s grace is enough and it is.  With God’s help we are walking on water.

25 years and I can say without a doubt that boredom has never been an issue.  I am pretty sure that word isn’t even in our vocabulary.  I have the opposite issue – sometimes I just want a time out.  The battle gets pretty intense.   It is then that I am reminded –   “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Tim 2:3-4

25 years ago, God called us to rural Iowa.  How long will we stay?  Until God says “It’s time to go.”  In the meantime we will embrace the journey, following God’s lead, and look for opportunities to let His light shine.  Keeping it fresh and vibrant!!

P1080733

til next time

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February 2, 2016 - Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, pastor, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] “We were either going to sink or walk on water.   We believed that God was opening the door and we were stepping through.” (from 25 years- really?) […]

    Pingback by sink or walk on water « Living Life in a Fish Bowl! | December 3, 2016 | Reply


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