Editor’s note: In mid-December 2019, Dusty took the plunge and accepted the call to pastor a church of six senior adults. We asked him to share his thoughts after a month on the job.
1. Am I ready?
Going into the replant I’m involved with now, I must say I’m nervous. I don’t know if this local body will or can survive if I make a mistake. It is similar to being a doctor fresh out of medical school with a dying patient you know doesn’t have to die. If you can just understand what medication to administer, you know they will survive and rebound remarkably. However, you also know that if you prescribe the wrong thing, it is likely they will get worse or even die. This is the thought that runs through my mind.
I’ve served as a pastor before and have years of ministry under my belt, as well as some seminary training, but I have never done this before. I’m nervous and worried that I’m still not ready. Now, I know we are to rely on God, stay in the Scripture, go to your support structures and people who can encourage you, and don’t stop praying. These are the first “go to” items for me, but it still doesn’t fully eliminate the question or doubt I have.
Below I’ll share more of what I’m thinking and how it all plays into this question. But first let me go to a piece of Scripture that has been encouraging to me: Romans 5:1-5 reminds me who I am through Christ and the hope I hold to. Just read it:
“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:1-5 CSB)
I know others may say this is more for the congregation members, that we remind them who they are in Christ in good times as well as bad. I would say this is a reminder of the same thing for me as well. Regardless if I question whether I’m ready, I have a great hope and peace because of Christ — and that alone is a defining characteristic for me.
2. I need to find a mentor.
I am convinced I’m supposed to be replanting, but that doesn’t eliminate the nerves and questioning. So the only option is to make sure I’m preparing myself for this adventure and getting fully ready for it. I know from my seminary classes at Southwestern and Gateway that many of my professors have said to find a mentor and lean into them as you do ministry. So this was one of the first thoughts I had. For me it was my former pastor, who himself had experience in replanting. But it could be any number of people in your life. I’d suggest your pastor or former pastor or a professor in one of your seminary classes. But make sure it is a strong, dedicated believer who can be honest with you and tell you when something sounds crazy.
3. How do I get out of the way?
In all of this — ready or not, mentor found or still searching — I know I need to get out of God’s way and let Him lead me and not me lead myself. This must be about God’s glory and how that glory can shine in our community, not about me and how I can shine in the community. I constantly think about whether I’m doing this to be recognized as something special and ask myself if my ego has gotten in the way. I know it can’t be about me, regardless of any success we have. Truly, if this replant is going to move forward and grow, it must and will be a God thing. Therefore, I must keep myself in check, ready myself, and surround myself with others who are willing to deflate my ego but love me and encourage me in Christ.
4. I’m terrified and excited.
I am excited to see what God will do in this replant. I’m humbled that He would use me in a process that will reclaim this local body and surrounding community for His glory. I know through experience it will not be easy. However, when you have seen God work before and you are blessed enough to be part of what He is doing, it is exciting. But I’m terrified too — because I know it will be hard. I don’t know the future or the struggles to come, but I know they are coming. I want to protect my family, keep my marriage strong, and provide for them in all of this. So I know the bottom line is to rely fully on God in all of it and get out of His way as we work. But I must face these fears and embrace the excitement. This is an adventure that, no matter what, God can be glorified in as we strive to point others to Christ.,
Published January 22, 2020