I find myself always looking to other people to learn from. I look to people who have been doing things longer than I have and are willing to offer what they know. It’s funny because I realize that everything that everyone says to me might not strike me at the time as profound, but fits together with a larger puzzle of knowledge that seems to be put together as I go through life and ministry. I’m a piecer, taking a piece from what this person said and meshing it with what this book said, and seeing it happen in my life this other way all to form this “ah ha!” moment.
As I enter my third full month of ministry in the role of Pastor it has become already abundantly clear to me that I have no idea what I’m doing. I mean, I knew it before hand, but now that I’m “in it” I definitely realize that that I really have no idea. Someone I respect told me early on, “Well, none of us did when we started.”
First, that’s comforting and humbling. Comforting from the stand point that I realize that I’m not in a different situation than anyone else. Humbling because it’s the realization that no matter how much you think you are read, you aren’t really. No matter how years you’ve spent in the church, hours you’ve spent studying, or even how many minutes you’ve spent preaching – you are not ready. You don’t know what you don’t know until you know you don’t… or something like that.
Second, I wonder if everyone would be willing to say after years that they still don’t know what they’re doing. As much as I want to “know how” to be a Pastor, I don’t ever want to think “I’ve got this.” That would mean death to me for two reasons. 1) Because I’d be on autopilot and just try to coast. 2) I’d have no need to learn any more.
What I’ve figured out so far is this: I don’t know what I’m doing but God does. I don’t know how to reach a lost community, but God does. I don’t know how to save a life that is spiraling out of control, but He does. I don’t know how to preach sermons that anyone gives a hoot about, but God does. I don’t know how to change church people from inwardly focused to outwardly focused, but He does. I don’t know how or what to do on a hospital visit (had never been), but I’ve been on 2 and God knew what to do. I don’t know how to create small group material, but I have been for over a month because He does. I don’t know how to create mission statements and then implement them, but some how a few months out our statement of purpose is being worked out in what’s going on week in and week out.
Sure, I’ve had training in some of these areas and other areas not so much. I might even have a few ideas on how to do some of it. The point is though, sometimes I think we want more training so we can do it “right” and then we rely on ourselves and what we “know.” We don’t need God’s knowledge because we learned how to do that in college, or seminary, or by watching a training video on it.
He knows how to do everything I don’t know, the things I think I know, and everything else a million times better and life-changing than I will ever know. I don’t want to manipulate emotions or stir up guilt or give warm fuzzies. There is life changing power and a transforming indwelling that I cannot achieve for you but I can experience and share about. An effective ministry is looking a lot more like total dependance on Him rather than dependance on what I know. (Although honestly I don’t know what an effective ministry looks like.)
Sure I’ll keep asking others to teach me and pour into me what they’ve learned. Sure I’ll always pursue an academic side of things, but I won’t do it to replace or short-circuit the spiritual. There are no short cuts to the working of the Holy Spirit. Don’t you think the 120 in the upper room would’ve have rather waited 40 minutes than 40 days? He knows whats necessary because He blueprinted it, created and implemented it… all.
I hope in 40 years I’ll still realize that I didn’t know much that mattered, but knew intimately that One that does matter. Let Paul’s claim ring true in my life:
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 2:2