A good friend of mine was just appointed by our home church to be the associate pastor and intern at Chapel in the Pines under Pastor Dennis. His name is Daniel Porter, and he and his wife received a standing ovation from our church family because this is affirmed as so right and beautiful both for us and for them, for our mutual benefit and God’s glory. Daniel has taken a road to ministry that is precious and God-blessed, not the only road God uses to bring people into full-time ministry, but certainly an honorable route. He served in the military and poured himself into serving our country, our safety, and the safety of internationals. Pastoring in the US has become a trade among many to choose right out of the gate from highschool, and while I believe this happens and fits for some, I am so pleased when I see men brought into the ministry after doing something else well and with a full heart.
What would it look like for men to more often stand up and lead, to love as we are called to, and to see our gifts and character refined in the fires and trials of work-place and culture-shaping life along with our wives and children. As men learn in these contexts of life about suffering, sorrow, depression, hopelessness, desperation, joy, success, victory, comfort, and love, we are sharpened and better prepared for serving as elders in our local churches. In the US, we have come to look at pastors and elders as the CEO and the board of directors. Is it possible that the Scripture is more clear about all elders being called to carry their responsibilities with more sobriety than simply bearing the weight of being a decision-maker in a corporation? When we stand up and lead, we are learning, whatever the title if any, about serving and loving and laying our lives down for the good of God’s people.
At Chapel, Daniel isn’t now taking all the weight of the church family in his age bracket onto his shoulders. We as men shoulder weight with him to lead and love. As Daniel learned in the military, we cannot treat participation as a consumer activity. We aren’t just showing up at feasts and eating the hosts out of house and home. We are potlucking and then getting back into the fray of life together. When we do gather, we are all pitching in to make the weight bearable and the encouragement mutual. When we get back out into our community, we are co-laboring as under-shepherds of the Great I Am. We are bearing weight of ministering to the needs of our community with the Daniels of this world. He is new in his role, and he will thrive the more we jump into the encouragement of one another and look out for each other’s needs, encouraging one another, meeting with one another, having one another over for meals and sharing encouraging Scriptures with each other.
All that said, I do pray for more leaders like Daniel to consider how we can stand up and lead and serve in this county. We need men in particular to stand up before the Lord in the quiet of our own personal devotions and to ask God in genuine heart-connection, “What would You have me to do, LORD?!” “Here I am. Send me!” Truthfully, there are far more local churches closing around the world than there are churches being planted. I have backed up from trying to plant a church because I realize that the existing churches need their men, especially those between 30 and 45 to stand up and lead, to love the hurting and broken, to look out for the interests of those in and outside of the body of Christ.
Yet again, I know I’ve written with passion and some lack of organization. I’m seeking to grow in my writing and my attention to care and not being distracting, but I appreciate my readers’ patience. Please continue to give me feedback and to let me know where you would recommend I seek growth in my writing. I believe my part to play in all of this is to document stories, particularly of men who are realizing God’s call on their lives to lead and to love, to show inner voluntary self-denial, to make room to receive and embrace in Christ’s love those to whom we turn – Kenosis.
Check-out http://www.AllThere.org if you’d like sometime. This is a ministry that is just getting going aimed at exactly what I’m describing above, helping men in particular to see God’s call on their lives and how to live it out for the good of others and for God’s glory, to show love instead of taking from life, to generously serve and burn out well, only to join our Savior one day without regrets of any kind. May we do this both as men and women, more and more, as families and as friends, as local churches and as communities of believers in each town and county and state.
In His joy,