Golf is an interesting game. No matter how good a golfer you are, there is always room for improvement.
Golf has very little to do with how much a person wants to play better.
- Everyone wants to play better.
- Everyone wants to lower their score.
- Everyone want to hit the ball straighter, farther.
- Everyone wants to sink the putts.
But there is only one proven way to get better at the game of golf.
You have to get out on the range and repeat the same swing over and over until it becomes a part of you. And then you have to keep going to the range so that you can keep swinging the same way over and over.
Same thing with the putting. The only way to get better at putting is by going out and practicing.
Here’s why I tell you all this and it has nothing to do with golf.
Being a Christian has very little to do with how much a person wants to be a better Christian.
- Every Christian wants to be more loving
- Every Christian wants to be a better servant leader
- Every Christian wants to be more kind
- Every Christian wants to be more like Jesus in our thoughts and deeds
But there’s only one proven way to get better at becoming more like Jesus.
The only way Christians get better at being more like Jesus is by practice. We have to practice loving people when they are unlovable, serving people who are undeserving, and being kind to people when we don’t feel like it.
When someone is rude to us, when someone has wronged us, our natural reaction is to respond in anger. We revolt against the call to treat those who hurt us with kindness.
And the reason why we, and the rest of the world who doesn’t know Jesus, respond this way?
It’s not because we’re human. It’s because we’re all sinners. And we have been practicing sin for all our lives.
And the great travesty with modern day Christianity is that we continue to practice sin even after we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior!!!
But now that we know Jesus, we need to break out of our old habits and start training and practicing new habits. That’s what it means to be Christian.
So what are those habits? Where is the “driving range” for Christians? The church.
I promise. You will get to practice being loving toward unlovable people, practice being a servant leader, and practice kindness to rude people in church. Guaranteed!
And it won’t come easy. As soon as we think we’ve got it, we got to keep on practicing because there will always be room to get better at being like our Savior. We will never be perfect at it. But we will get better over time as we continue practicing the habits of Christ-likeness.
If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, we have no other choice.
This is who we are.
Now it’s time that we start living out our faith.
I am nearing the end of my Sabbatical. I’ve been away from the day-to-day operation of the ministry at the Little Church and Lakewood Grace for almost three months. I am eager and looking forward to getting back into the office. I have greater clarity about the future ministry at the Little Church and Lakewood Grace.
There were two goals heading in to the Sabbatical. I wanted a better understanding of ministering with and to Boomers and retirees, and have clarity about discipleship for the whole of Little Church and Lakewood Grace. Through the readings and studies, I have greater clarity in these two areas and look forward to working these things out with our leaders and staff at the Little Church and Lakewood Grace.
The greatest lesson from the Sabbatical has to do with how awesome and amazing God is.
We all know that, but I’m not talking about intellectually knowing, but personally experiencing God’s grace and God’s amazing faithfulness.
I am astounded by how faithful and limitless God’s love is. I know this because I know God loves me! I have given God so many reasons to give up on me, and yet God is faithful, God loves, God forgives, God renews, God restores, God inspires.
How astounding is that?!?!
In times away, it is so easy to see the grandeur and the majesty of God and his power. The more I read, study, and meditate on God, it is so easy to see God’s infinite love for me and our world. And it is truly amazing. I am astounded by God’s amazing love and grace. It is truly awesome!
It is so easy to see God’s grandeur and majesty when I am literally thousands of miles away from the office, from the nitty-gritty work with messy sinful people like me and the people at the Little Church and Lakewood Grace.
In the midst of the messiness and yucky-ness that sometimes goes with working with recovering sinners, it is easy to lose sight of God’s grandeur and God’s majesty.
And it gets so deadeningly exhausting.
In that exhaustion, God’s grandeur and majesty grows dim. It’s so easy to forget.
And the forgetfulness results in trying harder, and the harder I try, the more exhausting it gets.
Because, you see, ministry and eternity-shaping is not what human beings are capable of achieving. This is all God. God doesn’t ask us to change the world. God asks us to obey and join him in changing the world through us. God does the changing.
I thank God for this Sabbatical. It has been refreshing to bask in God’s grandeur and majesty. It has been good for me to be reminded again of how amazing God’s grace is again.
So a couple of things for leaders and pastors.
- I hope you are able to get way for a chunk of time regularly from the day-to-day operation of the ministry so you can be reminded of God’s greatness and his calling for you
- Daily time in the presence of God is essential. You will lose sight of why you do what you do and will burn out. You must spend time with God in his awesome presence. Only his awesome grace and presence can sustain us. Look, if Jesus needed this, we are without excuse
- This is God’s ministry. God invites us to join him. Do you know where God is leading you and your ministry?