Thrive Where You’ve Been Planted
Have you ever asked the question why? Why am I here? Why am I doing what I am doing although some days I really don’t want to be doing it and not right here? Part of this questioning comes from what our culture sells us every day – if it is not bigger than the next guy or better than the other guy, it is not the best it can be. To be the best, it has got to be bigger and better. Well, I would refute this thought on many different fronts, including what I am about to tell you. First, let me express to you, I love what I do. Not all days are as glamorous as others, but I love to study the Word of God, share His truth with others and see the lives of so many people changed. It was only a few months ago, I was presented with an opportunity for change. Many opportunities have come my way over the last few years. When you’re in the ministry and you have a great passion for what you do, sometimes your name gets thrown out to others who are looking to fill a vital position in their own church or para-church organization. This was the case – a church had a vacancy and they needed to fill it. Churches are no different from corporate America when it comes to filling important positions. It was a much larger ministry and they were offering something which would be of interest to me. And of course, I am always up to a good challenge. But, let me tell you, rarely do I ever find the grass greener on the other side of the fence when such an opportunity is presented. Remember, the reason why someone is approaching you is, most often, a position had been vacated. The position in which I find myself today as a lead pastor, I did not want. As a matter of fact, I did not put in my name to be considered for it. No way, no how was I interested. It was a messy situation and I wasn’t interested in cleaning up someone else’s mess. Perhaps grace, perhaps compassion for the people who I had grown to love so deeply, I could not leave them as wandering sheep. There is so much more to the story, but I am most certainly glad I took that step of faith. So I accepted the position now nine years ago. As I was pondering some thoughts about what was being presented through this new ministry, I had some great words of wisdom spoken to me. Ironically, the one sharing those words had no clue what I had been presented with or my situation. We were visiting one day at lunch and I asked him about his ministry. He was coming from the perspective of a larger church where he now serves and without prompting, he was questioning why anyone would leave a ministry after 15 years to take on a new role and responsibility. Then, what he said next struck me and obviously impacted me. He stated, the new large ministry doesn’t care about you personally per se, they just want you to come in and do the job they hired you to do. In some respects and many respects, he was right. He had seen it and I had seen it time and again with friends who had gone to larger ministries and when they could no longer perform the job they were hired to do, they were asked to leave. Which, then caused me to reflect upon my ministry and the opportunity to thrive as a pastor who has a great passion for others. There are so many plus’ to be considered: we live in a nice community which is a wonderful environment to raise a family; we are only a couple of miles from a major university with unparalleled opportunities; we have built relationships and friendship with many inside the church and outside of our fellowship; we know our neighbors up one side of the street and down the other. Just the other day, a man whom we’ve invited to church on many occasions, who thinks he is “too bad” for God’s grace, I had another conversation with him about God, where he is one step closer now to walking into our church. Our church is willing to embrace people from all different backgrounds and walks of life, and they are willing to be culturally relevant; we’ve witnessed firsthand over the last few years, clear evidence of spiritual growth with so many in our fellowship; and the opportunities go on. After being established in a church and community for 17 years, there are so many benefits. But, one of the greatest privileges of being so established is, our fellowship allows us to pursue and supports our passion in caring for orphans and widows. I have used the term on several different occasions, thrive where you have been planted. Wherever God has put you and planted you, thrive…thrive…thrive. This is what we have been doing and intend to continue to do – but now to a greater extent. We are seeking to use the resources we have to expand our ministry toward orphans and widows, initially in the next few months, but to a greater degree, in the years ahead. Just this week, and after about six months of prayer, study, consultation, advice and consideration, we took the first major step toward the pursuit of a new journey. In only three days, wide open doors along with new opportunties have presented themself. Next week, I will have the opportunity to sit down with a CEO of a major company, a company worth millions of dollars, but a CEO who is “down to earth” and has a great passion for orphan care. We hope this will be the beginning of a great relationship together which will allow us to take our mission to the next level. But, if there is one great lesson I’ve learned living in this small community for many years now is, thrive where you’ve been planted. And, if you are willing to graciously and compassionately give God what you have, He will use it to bring about the greatest good for His honor. This is our enthusiasm for Him. Each day that we live and breathe, is another day to make an impact in the life of someone who needs hope. Our great pursuit is simple: just thrive…just thrive where you’ve been planted.