These numbers represent folks who Denise and I had the joy of sharing in sweet fellowship this past Saturday and Sunday in two different locations.
For 38 and 44 years, Seth and Linda, now retired, have labored for the Lord in the fields of Christian education.
For 48 years, Bacilio and Eunice has labored faithfully in the mission fields of Hispanic nations. Although the years have taken its toll on him, he said to me, “Dale, I am busier now that I have ever been.”
As I have pondered their lives after our recent visits, my heart was once again encouraged to finish well; to have staying power over the long haul.
How does someone in full-time vocational ministry “stay by the stuff” until the end?
What’s the “glue” that helps us “stick-to-it”? Having been involved in ministry now for over 41 years as well as growing up in a pastor’s home, I share these with a bit of experience, yet knowing that my race has not been finished.
- Keep your heart fresh in your walk with the Lord by living life in the awe and wonder of Who God is! (Psalms 34:1-3; 63:1-4; 91:1-2; 145:1-21)
- Live a life of prayer, not a prayer life. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
- Memorize and meditate on Scripture so when you talk to yourself, rather than listening to yourself, you have something really worthwhile, transformative to say. (Psalm 42:5, 11; 43:5)
- Learn to rest spiritually, mentally, and physically. There is no virtue in having your “foot-to-the-pedal” 24/7. (Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 6:31; Philippians 4:6-8)
- Make daily investments in your marriage; more deposits than withdrawals. Outside of Christ, your wife needs to be your best friend. (Proverbs 5:15-23; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Song of Solomon 4:9-11; Ephesians 5:18-33)
- Enjoy the journey! Laugh a lot! Have fun! Don’t take yourself so serious! (Psalm 16:11; Proverbs 15:15; 17:22; Ecclesiastes 3:4)
- Love people as Christ does. (Matthew 22:37-40; John 15:9-17; 1 John 4:21)
- Expect to be disappointed and suffer at the hands of people. Why should I be treated any better than Jesus was? And, make sure you do not live with a martyr’s complex! (Hebrews 12:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:10)
- Live a life of gratitude. (Colossians 3:15-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 12:28)
- Remember, few men cannot stand the applause. (1 Corinthians 10:31; Proverbs 16:18)
- Your identity is not in a successful sermon or project but in Christ alone. (Philippians 3:4-14)
- Surround yourself with godly, encouraging, edifying, loving, transparent friends inside and outside your ministry. (Proverbs 27:17; Romans 16:1-16; Philippians 2:19-30)
- Live with the Bema in view as well as eternity. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-10; Revelation 21-22)
- Live the gospel and share the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 1:27)
One final thought comes to mind as I consider these four faithful laborers.
At this late date in their lives, they still have such a winsome personality, a sweet disposition and a joy-filled heart in spite of the aging process and current physical hinderances.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).