For 35 years now I have said no to many good and even potentially profitable opportunities, so that I can preach the gospel without deterrents or distractions.
I’ve been offered positions on advisory boards, investment opportunities, staff positions on church or with ministries, which I continue to mostly decline if it takes too much work and time away from my main calling.
I know those opportunities are well and even great for most people, especially ministers, but not me.
I’ve had a one track mind for decades, and it is to preach the gospel and make disciples. I don’t have too much interest in anything else. Some people are very gifted and can multi-task very well, but I cannot lest my main calling suffers. Some saints and ministers have multiple talents. I have only one, and I will never bury it.
KEEP THE MAIN THING, THE MAIN THING
You see, to be effective you must focus on what you are primarily graced and called to do, and do it well. Some people are wide but shallow. They are thinned out and have no depth to what they do. As I’ve heard said, they are one mile wide and one inch thick. That doesn’t work for me.
Some people might ask me, “Have you ever had to work a side job? Do you have a portfolio? How do you support your family? Prepare for retirement? Don’t you feel it is wise to develop multiple streams of income? Make investments? Etc.”
Although I believe there can absolutely be great benefit and profit in all these things, and I admire people who are wise and prudent at doing them; for me, I can’t. I’m restrained by the Lord.
HOW I BEGAN
When I began preaching in my mid- to late 20s I made a thorough consecration to the Lord to preach this glorious gospel until I die, and to trust Him to meet all my needs. When I became a missionary I even opted out of social security against my accountant’s wishes and advice, and popular sound reason. Some people might still say, “That’s foolish or dumb.” But it was a choice I made in the sight of God, and I have no regrets about it. He’s never failed me.
Have there been rough and challenging times? Absolutely! As some of you know, we just went through the most severe trial of our 35 years of ministry. But the Lord met every need without us asking anyone for help except to solicit prayers from God’s people. Praise God! To Him be the glory. Our faith and trust in the Lord as Provider has grown exceedingly from this hard trial.
Yes, I’m almost at retirement age, but that word has never been in my vocabulary. How can I retire from a high and holy calling? What would I do with my time? How would I spend my days?
Some might ask me, “Don’t you believe in enjoying life and doing fun things with friends and family? Of course, I do all those things, but not for very long. I get bored quickly if it’s not redemptive. Many common believers don’t really understand the calling of a true preacher. There is an anointing in my gut to minister the gospel and make disciples. I cannot be satisfied unless I’m doing that in some way. It’s a fire shut up in my bones.
I remember a missionary friend of mine and I would come off the field to itinerate and try and do a few fun things with our family, and after a couple of days we were bored and unfulfilled. It is not that we were workaholics, but the calling was strong in both of us. As a younger man, I had to learn not to be so driven, and develop some balance in life, but that compelling unction and vision to go and make disciples was always there.
“But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” (Luke 4:43)
What I have improved on as I’ve aged is to do everything with the Lord, to cultivate an awareness of Him all day long, and to enjoy His presence and peace in every setting, to rest and relax spiritually, to not be so compartmentalized in my thinking and the way I live life. I’m constantly training myself to stay in that place of inward rest and leisure. I was hard to live with in my early years of ministry. Just ask Carolyn. But it’s much different now. I’m much more yielded and surrendered to God’s agenda and pace of heaven for my life.
Remember, if you will learn to walk in the Spirit, time will always be your friend.
I know most of my posts are long, but it’s with a purpose — to sift out those who are not hungry for the wisdom of God or simply don’t care. We all make time for the things that are important to us. A big part of our assignment and the latter phase of ministry we have entered into is “to draw forth in prayer the provision of My wisdom for My people.” That’s a mandate from the Lord for Carolyn Ryan Farias and I, not something we just thought up that sounded good.
I love you all very much and hope these regular posts are a blessing to you, and are fueling you with the wisdom of God. It’s really another piece of the discipleship process.
Please share and comment as you wish. Would love to hear from more of you.