From the Editor
Keeping Things Simple
"No matter how short or long our tenure, may we continue to see the world and God’s plan for it with the same wonder we did at the beginning, when we were excited about our new life in Christ and wanted to give our all to reach every person for Jesus."
Preserving the wonder of calling
While I’m often surrounded by veterans in ministry, I also regularly meet people who are just starting out. Early ministry days are usually filled with excitement and great anticipation for what lies ahead. But as we experience an ever-widening variety of people and circumstances, we often become less sure that we’re doing things correctly. I recognize how valuable it is to share what we have learned with others so that they can benefit and even avoid some of the missteps we may have made along the way. Jesus’s reminder to keep things simple, and to have the mindset of a trusting child, has helped me many times over: “And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven’” (Matthew 18:3).
I have learned many simple-to-understand (but hard-to-follow) principles that I can pass on to those wanting some advice they can embrace on their journey. Here are a few lessons that come to mind:
- God’s work will always be there to do; He will be faithful to help us to do it in His way and time. Take the time to rest regularly, or you won’t be well enough spiritually or otherwise to complete the mission assigned to you. We want to enter our ultimate rest in right relationship with God and others.
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?” (Ecclesiastes 3:22).
“There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:9-11).
- Your marital status does not determine your worth; it can change at any time, so be grateful for the current season God has you in.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-12).
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13).
- After coming to faith in Christ, there may be several more cathartic stages for you to move through; Jesus, who is the same and never changes, will faithfully help you through each one.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, ESV).
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
- If you think differently than those around you, and what you think can be backed by Scripture, the goal is not for you to conform to everyone else but to be faithful to Christ’s work and His design for your way of expressing yourself in the world. It all works together for the good of the entire body if we allow it to.
“[F]or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13, ESV).
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV).
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:4-5).
- It’s impossible to know fully what’s going on in each person’s heart; their motivations may sometimes remain a complete mystery, even if you ask directly for clarity. God will provide you with the insight you need to respond appropriately in every situation. In the end, God loves each person deeply, so we are wise to interact with others with this in mind.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:5-7).
“Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).
- Exposure to secular training and ideas is not wrong in itself. Jesus learned carpentry, and Paul was a tentmaker by trade. There are so many people we can learn from or gain connections with when we pursue practical knowledge. Disciplines like nursing, business training and many others can create opportunities for us to be salt and light in any space where those skills are learned or practised. Intimate knowledge of God’s Word and the guidance of His Spirit will help us separate the meat from the bones in what we’re learning.
“A wise man will hear and increase in learning,
And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel…” (Proverbs 1:5, NASB1995).
- It is to our benefit when we allow ourselves to be planted in environments where we are socially uncomfortable or don’t feel that we belong; experiencing God’s grace over time helps us see how we needed to grow and be humbled. We also begin to see life through a lens that would otherwise be inaccessible.
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:16).
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
- Setting boundaries is not sinful for a Christ-follower, and humility does not mean ignoring harmful or hurtful behaviour; it’s beneficial to prayerfully aim to reset relational dynamics if they are not in a healthy place.
“Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt” (Leviticus 19:17).
In her book Gifted to Lead, Nancy Beach comments that the formation of our character is what matters most in our leadership journey. Humility, self-confidence, humour and integrity should all be counted as important in the growth process.1 No matter how short or long our tenure, may we continue to see the world and God’s plan for it with the same wonder we did at the beginning, when we were excited about our new life in Christ and wanted to give our all to reach every person for Jesus.
This article appeared in the October/November/December 2023 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2023 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © istockphoto.com.
- Nancy Beach, Gifted to Lead: The Art of Leading as a Woman in the Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 35-42.