Self-Worth, Ministry, and Misery—3

In my prior post I talked about how the Lord humbled me and I quit my ministry position. Well, when I was just finishing up my M.Div. (this was 1980), I was hired as an associate pastor by a church which soon had an average attendance of about 5,000. But I didn’t say “Check!” this time. I had learned that I must not climb the ministerial fame latter, that I needed to please the Lord.

I began to dread communion services at that church because it seemed like every time we had communion some guy would come up and confess the sin of hating me for my getting the position he wanted! I’m not kidding. A senior pastor later half-kidded that when he brought me on staff “half the guys in the church just about lost their salvation.”

Thankfully, during my time there, the Lord began to reveal to me the glory that awaits us in heaven for ever. What we all need is to learn to lust after God and His Kingdom. After all, I know something about you (and by that I mean everyone in the world including those reading these words): we are all going to lust after something and we’re either going to lust after God and His Kingdom or we’re going to lust after people, possessions, positions, or pleasures. But no matter what, we are going to lust. I’ve posted on this.

My position in the church of 5,000 only lasted about three-and-one-half years (we were going in different theological directions), and I was again out of ministry and a job.

I decided I was going to start a church but that didn’t materialize and I spent years working in the insurance industry and teaching a Bible study to only about ten people (the Lord loves His servants enduring long periods of obscurity but that’s a topic for another time). Now I wish I could tell you that from then on I built my identity only on who I was in Christ. I was doing much, much better but it’s still a struggle. Thankfully, I’ve learned some major truths that have helped immensely (the Lord also beat the crud out of me through many trials like bone cancer but that’s also a topic for another time).

Who Is Going to Be Greatest in God’s Kingdom?

Here’s a realization that helps me build my identity on who I am in Jesus. I ask students all the time, who is going to be greater in the Kingdom of God: Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, _____________, or the Christian woman who was abused as a child, who wasn’t able to go to college, who isn’t brilliant, who isn’t particularly good looking, and who works in a convalescent home? But in this convalescent home she loves the people she cares for. She cares for them like she was caring for Christ Himself. She cares for them because she sincerely loves them, and she shares Christ with them as she has the opportunity.

Then I ask

Who’s going be greater in the Kingdom of God?

There is always silence.

Then I say: “there is only one possible answer.”

Students always laugh but I’m not kidding.

There is only one possible answer.

The only possible answer is, “I don’t know!”

But I know for sure that the answer isn’t necessarily Tim Keller, William Lane Craig, or _____________. It might be one of them but that’s not a given.

There are three major reasons that we can’t say who will be greatest in the Kingdom of God.

I’ll continue this Monday.

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