I read an article a few years ago that chilled me to the core. It said that the majority of the pastors in the United States stop growing spiritually when they are about 45 years old. (How do they know this stuff?) It seems that pastors learn to do a job — how to counsel, to preach, to administrate a church, etc. and because they really don’t need to learn much more, they put it on cruise control and continue until they retire.
The reason it chilled me is because I am no better. With all that I have to do, I am not looking for more work here.
It would be easy to fall into that trap. But I have made four goals for myself in order to avoid the trap. In this chapter, I am going to talk about two of them and in the next one, the other two.
1) I need to know God. That is what eternal life is according to John 17:3. God has always wanted us to know Him. He made us in His image so we could understand Him.
Knowing God was Paul’s passion.1 And the worst words we could ever hear would be if Jesus said to us to depart because He never knew us.2
Now I am not talking about knowing more about Him — many of us have made Christianity a moral philosophy to be mentally assented to. No, I want to know Him.
To know Him I have to spend time with Him. I am not just referring to time in prayer — people from every religion pray — but to something much deeper. It is relating to Him.
I have to keep my heart sensitive if I am to hear His still, small voice. A hardened heart is a deaf heart. I am way over those 45 years of age. I need to be teachable.
2) I need to be humble. I am not sure I really understand what humility is. Sometimes we think that we have to put ourselves down to be humble. Our example of humility is Jesus. He did not go around talking bad about Himself. He told us that without Him we could do nothing.3 That can sound like bragging. But He also instructed people not to tell anyone about the healing they had just received.4 He deflected the credit often, saying things like their faith had healed them.5
I have two major problems in my desire to be truly humble. 1) I don’t really know what true humility is unless God reveals it to me. The mysteries of God are not understood or learned, they are revealed. 2) I can’t become more humble without help. Marisa helps me in this. Life and its unfairness does, too. They show me where I am being proud. (Just about every time I find myself irritable, it can be traced back to pride.)
Jesus, seeing my fruitless struggle to reform, tells me to go to Him, to learn from Him because he is meek and humble down in His heart. He said that if I achieve humility, I will find rest for my soul.6 True humility brings rest for the soul!
Paul did not want anyone to think more of him than what they saw or heard from him.7 He did not tell us about some of his experiences because it would make people admire him more. (We, on the other hand, tend to hide things that would make people think less of us.) Paul gloried in his weaknesses8 and tried to hide his achievements.7 God exalts9 and gives grace10 to the humble. I want to be truly humble.
Jesus ran away from those who wanted to crown Him king.11 Paul hid some of the high points of his faith to avoid looking too good!7
There is something I often say that helps me to put it all in perspective: “Due to circumstances out of my control… things are going well!”
1- Philippians 3:10 2- Matthew 7:23 3- John 15:5 4- Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:44; 8:26 5- Matthew 9:22, Mark 5:34; 10:52; Luke 7:50; 8:48; 17:19; 18:42 6- Matthew 11:29 7- 2 Corinthians 12:6 8- 1 Corinthians 12:5, 9 & 10 9- James 4:10; 1 Peter 5:6 10- James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5 11- John 6:15