Thoughts on 50 Years of Ministry
“The world is yet to see what God will do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully consecrated to Him.” – Challenge spoken to a discouraged D.L. Moody in Dublin, Ireland by Henry Varley in 1867.
I’ve kept these words on my possession for 5 decades.
18,250 days ago, I left the AFL-CIO headquarters pondering, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk. 9:62). To the left was the White House, symbol of the nation where God called me as a “watchman.” To the right was a building where two thousand “Jesus Movement” youth would gather and I’d teach God’s Word.
Today I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness on my journey. “Through many dangers, toils and snares, I have already come; ‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
46 years of marriage, 4 children/7 grandchildren; books, articles and video commentaries; churches planted and leaders launched – a tapestry of “good, bad and ugly” life lessons now part of a legacy that hopefully glorifies God.
Like Paul and Rocky, I’ve been “knocked down but not out (2 Cor. 4:9). A plaque on our wall reminds me, “Make sure you fulfill the ministry you’ve received in the Lord” (Col. 4:17).
In my spirit remains the words God spoke to me in the beginning, “Let it never be said of me that I presented the world a caricature of Christ.”
Starting is easy but sticking is hard. If your goal like mine is to finish well, here’s inspiration and suggestions from my experience to hopefully help you. Many of the quotes are ever before me on my study wall.
12 Inspirational Quotes
“Therefore, since we are encompassed with such a great cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Let us look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Heb.12:1-2). [scripture in front of my desk]
“I’ll prepare myself and one day my time will come.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Beware of the peril of familiarity.” – T. Austin Sparks (60 years of ministry)
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can; hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can.” – MLK, Jr.
“I shall pass through this world but once. Therefore, any good I can do, any kindness I can show, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” – Henry Drummond (evangelist)
“What men build with their charisma they often ruin with their character.” – Unknown
“One word explains what destroys churches and ministries: Ambition [selfish]. – Derek Prince
“An unguarded strength is a double weakness.” – Oswald Chambers
“By perseverance even the snail made it into the Ark.” – Charles Spurgeon
“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
“Courage is contagious.” – Billy Graham
10 Tips to Finish Well
1. Live your life loving God & loving others.
Jesus summed everything up with these two priorities (Matt. 22:37-40). Not just family and friends but everybody!
Rick Warren in his recent farewell address (after 43 years at Saddleback Church) finished by telling 23,000 members one thing: “Live a life of love!”
2. Glorify God by fulfilling your destiny.
No matter what comes your way, be flexible, forgiving and full of faith to fulfill His plan for your life (Ps.139:16). Destiny is a matter of choice not chance. So, turn your trials into triumphs, your stumbling blocks into steppingstones and your tests into testimonies!
You’ll face betrayals (check out the traumatic experiences of Joseph, Paul, David and even Jesus). Resist comparing and counting (remember David grieved God in numbering the people (2 Sam. 24.10). Don’t deceive yourself with adulation and diminished anointing (Samson went out “as before…He did not know that the Lord had left him” (Judges 16:20).
3. Stay in His Word and in His Church.
We’re called to mature by regular study/application of scripture and being meaningfully involved in a local church. To do otherwise is to live beneath God’s revealed will for your life.
4. Build friendships for support, sharpening and sustainability.
Recognize 4 groups: just friends (social); rust friends (older – keep some, let some go) trust friends (counselors) and must friends (lifelong gifts from God).
5. Adjust with seasons.
God ordained seasons (Eccl. 3:1) and sensitivity to the Spirit enables us to make transitions and not burn out. After decades of planting churches and discipling leaders, God directed me to entrust our church to our son and his wife and transition to the calling of “watchman on the wall” as a cultural commentator addressing “hot button” issues from a Biblical worldview to develop informed influencers for a Great Awakening. Recently I identified 30 critical issues and put them free as 5-minute informative videos on YouTube to equip us to engage with others.
6. Guard your health.
God’s will for us is to practice “temple maintenance” as we age so we age well and remain fruitful! Whitfield died at 57; Wesley at 87 with 30 more years of productive service! My primary heroes in ministry lived long and fruitful lives (Billy Graham – 99); (Chuck Colson – 80); (Derek Prince – 88).
Don’t retire but refire to conquer new mountains as you balance work with rest, recreation, relaxation, wise eating, sound sleep, stress reduction and regular exercise.
7. Cultivate consistency and being faithful.
Don’t strive to be successful. Strive to be faithful and leave your success in the hands of God.
Success in life really boils down to doing a few important things consistently every day. These are “holy habits” that spell the difference between productivity and longevity versus passivity and mediocrity.
People gravitate to individuals who are faithful. Remember: “Consistency is a daily deposit in the bank of trust.” One day we all long to hear Jesus tell us, “Well done good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:23).
8. Excel in serving.
When Moses died God didn’t say “Moses My man of faith and power…” but simply, “Moses My servant is dead” (Josh. 1:2).
Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an example then told them, “If you know these things, blessed (happy) are you if you do them.” (Jn. 13:17). My personal mantra is H.O.P.E. (Help other people every day).
Be intentional in serving not just when it’s convenient but when it costs you sacrificially.
9. Give generously.
Jesus said, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Practicing a spirit of generosity in blessing others practically helps others, paves the way for gospel sharing plus brings a significant and satisfying life.
Babies are born with clenched fists. We die with open hands. Many never learn the lesson of lavish and joyful giving.
10. Share the gospel consistently.
When we leave this life for heaven we’ll keep worshiping, learning, maturing and fellowshipping but there’s one thing we’ll no longer do – evangelize the lost. For decades I’ve encouraged multitudes to write a personal testimony tract and enjoy daily “divine appointments” where you plant “gospel seeds” to change lives. I engage with people daily and usually give out at least three of my spiritual journey tracts that enables me to reach over a thousand every year!
We’re “ambassadors” (2 Cor. 5:20) and messengers called to share the gospel intentionally and consistently. Many opportunities for sharing Christ come disguised as unwelcome interruptions. So, to finish well let’s re-consecrate ourselves to this sacred task. Go to “Loving Lifestyle Evangelism” to enjoy the adventure of natural, relational, enjoyable evangelism!
Here’s the deal: Wherever you find yourself on your journey, together let’s celebrate God’s faithfulness. Then claim with me, “The end of a matter is better than its beginning” (Eccl.7:8). “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn that grows brighter each day” (Prov. 4:18)
Were you encouraged by these quotes and tips? If so, share this article with your friends and family to encourage them!
Larry Tomczak is a cultural commentator of 46 yrs, Intercessors for America board member, best-selling author and a public policy advisor with Liberty Counsel. His innovative video/book, BULLSEYE, develops informed influencers in 30 days (see www.bullseyechallenge.com). Hear his weekly podcast here. Photo Credit: Daniel Morton on Unsplash.
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