On the last Sunday of May, 2009, the former pastor of the church that I serve retired after over 38 years as pastor of that church. I was his associate pastor, and was asked to serve as the interim. Thus began a journey of over two and one-half years, during which the church completely reorganized under a new constitution and by-laws. This included a new leadership structure, and a much needed expansion and clarification of the doctrinal statement.
This past Sunday – February 5, 2012 – I was officially installed as the next pastor of the church, following a congregational vote to call me as pastor back in January. I was a very encouraging and affirming day. I am truly glad to be the pastor of this church. And I am glad to have been a part of the long transition period, which the Lord used to deepen and strengthen both the members of the congregation – and me.
In his prayer during the installation service, one of our leaders thanked the Lord for the completion of the transition “journey” that the church had been on. He also prayed that the congregation would not be idle now, but would realize that a new “journey” of growth and service and ministry was beginning. I’m glad he prayed that, because that is so true. Now that a time of uncertainty is behind us – and given a new vision and structural foundation – it is time to seek the empowerment of the Holy Spirit for the tasks that He has ahead for us.
I am thrilled with my new responsibilities – and humbled, and even intimidated. I was reminded today of the importance of the responsibility as I read Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders: “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood” (Acts 20:28 ESV). God will hold me accountable for making sure I’m walking in integrity, and for making sure I am faithfully “shepherding” my flock. What a serious responsibility.
I recently came across some “accountability” questions which, while not original with me, are helpful to me in “paying careful attention” to myself. Perhaps they will be of help to you.
Have I regularly spent unhurried time with God in the Bible and in prayer?
Have I pulled back from God to follow my own way?
Is there anyone I need to forgive or ask forgiveness?
Have I actively avoided opportunities that tempt me?
Have I exposed myself to illicit material, people, or thoughts?
Have I treated my work as working for God rather than man?
Have I been generous to the poor and to the church?
Have I spoken truthfully in all circumstances and refrained from gossip?
Have I shared with others anything about God from the Bible or my life?
Have I misled my brothers and sisters, or tried to excuse myself from accountability?
If you happen to see me somewhere along the “journey,” I would welcome you stopping me and asking me any of these questions.