Today began a new chapter in my ministry. I began serving at First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, AR as the Associate Minister of Missions. This past week, I packed up my belongings, said goodbye to some dear friends, and changed from an on-campus student to a long distance one. All of those are difficult things, but the Lord had called me to this new journey, so I went, without much questioning, actually. I was expectant of the things the Lord would teach me over the next months and years in this new ministry calling. I did not expect a trial so quickly.
Sometime between Sunday night and the early morning hours of Monday, someone broke into the minivan we had rented to haul some of my things, and stole my television, a box of books, and a box of pictures. At first I was enraged, later I was just really sad, but now, truthfully, I’ve been pointed to Christ. I’ve learned several lessons, but one thing that has rested at the forefront of my mind is the idea of experiencing trials before a watching flock.
It’s easy to get up and preach Matthew 5:38-42, but it’s difficult to live it out. But, be warned, brother pastor, the way you live preaches just as much, if not more, than what you say. Now listen, I did not say, “preach the gospel and use words when necessary.” Gospel proclamation should be the top priority. What I did say is that your life sends a message. As a pastor, minister, lay leader, or whatever, how you live out Scripture will send out a message to your people. If we’re inerrantists, and we should be, then we have to live like it. I have to believe my Father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. I have to believe that he works all things out for good. I have to believe he gives and he takes away. I have to believe that he is the greatest treasure I have.
Do I want my priceless pictures back? Yes. Do I wish I still had my television? Yes. Am I sad that all my John Piper books got stolen? Yes. Has it ruined my life? Absolutely not. So, when the trials come, cling to Christ. Point your people to the cross. Let them see you rely on the Lord. Don’t be a wuss, there’s time to be angry, there’s time to mourn. But your emotions do not nullify the sovereignty of God, so don’t confuse your people with your life responses.