Just yesterday I returned back to Charlotte from our annual staff retreat and planning time for the upcoming year of ministry. This is an extremely profitable time for me as a leader to our staff and church family as we do our best to steward the ministry He has given us for the glory of God.
I’m not sure that everyone in our church family fully understands and appreciates why we do something like this. Occasionally people will think you’re getting away to “have fun” or “goof off.” Or, maybe they view a staff retreat to be some sort of vacation. Of course, if you’re idea of a staff retreat is to find rest and refreshment for your staff then sure, go and have fun. Our focus is a little different. It’s a work trip – an extremely heavy work trip.
Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”
I’m thankful for the provision of godly friendships in the ministry. I have found it both encouraging and enjoyable to have like-minded friends who not only sharpen me, but are just fun to be around. This week I will head to New York City to preach for some very dear friends of mine. I’m looking forward to enjoying some time together with them and other pastor friends in the area. As I am preparing for my trip I began to thank the Lord for the friends He has brought into my life from, literally, around the world. Friendship is important, but the type of friend is even more important. So, I thought those in our church family, especially, might like to know what kind of friends in ministry your pastor hangs around (yes, I do have a few. I think.).
My friends in the ministry are those…
1. Who have a passionate, intimate walk with God. I, just like anyone else, need friendships that will help me not hurt me. This comes when we surround ourselves with people who walk daily with God. As I think about those who are closest to me I am grateful that these co-laborers in ministry are men who walk with God and will truly sharpen me to do the same. These are men who stand for the fundamentals of the faith and refuse to compromise on His Word. Their hunger and desire to know God and stay close with Him is contagious.
2. Who care more about prayer, and less about gossip. Never over estimate the power of a praying friend. I’m grateful there are men I can text right now and know that whatever need is in my life and ministry they will pray for me and with me. What a blessing to have that kind of ministry friend – a friend who doesn’t preach about your problems to his congregation when you’re not around, but a friend who prays with you as you walk through the valley and is willing to walk with you.
We are in the middle of our annual Vision Offering campaign. Each year a special project is chosen in our church ministry to designate the special offering to. This year, we are asking the Lord to provide a ministry vehicle (25 to 29 passenger shuttle bus) for groups in our church family to use for activities and long trips. With three weeks to go we are over half-way there to achieving our goal of $50,000.
Luke 12:34 says, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” One of the truest indicators of your heart’s condition is what you do with your money and possessions. I have been overwhelmed by the response of our church family to give to this special offering. Not only are people giving out of their income, but you are going the extra mile…selling vehicles, having yard sales, even taking portions out of your IRA’s. It’s phenomenal! As we think about the heart of our giving, let’s remind ourselves of three important biblical principles related to giving.
EVERYTHING I HAVE BELONGS TO GOD.
This is where giving begins, understanding that everything I have belongs to God. Somewhere along the way we got this idea that only 10% belongs to the Lord. Think of it this way: 100% belongs to God, He just allows you to manage 90% of what is really His.