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A Matter of Perspective....

People loved sending me audio links to the Toto Song with the line,

“I bless the rain down in Africa,” following my recent trip. After a drought lasting over 4 months, we prayed for rain and it came.

This is the second time we’ve seen God intervene with rain during one of our Missions ventures to the “Dark Continent.” Many posted sympathetic comments when they saw video I posted of rain. The natives however, were rejoicing. Interesting dichotomy of perspectives on the same thing...rain. To one group it was bad. To the other--a source of joy and hope.

Recently, I've had somewhat of an epitome with regard to my own career track record. For some time, I've often felt like a failure and frankly, recognized that others in ministry probably saw me the same way.

You see, my wife and I have been called to lead churches through some VERY challenging changes. We've spearheaded mergers, planted a new church, and worked-through doctrinal and constitutional overhauls resulting in the loss of hundreds of congregants. Twice now, I've willingly stepped back from the Lead/Senior position to facilitate mergers and growth in our churches.

On paper, this means I've taken two demotions and "preached-down" a couple of congregations--one by over 50%. That's right, one of my "claims to fame" is preaching more than 150 people OUT of my congregation due to disagreement with my message. The is NOT the kind of thing you want on your LinkedIn profile. Needless to say, the lead paragraph on my resume doesn't include this stuff either! Thinking about these things has often led to discouragement and embarrassment along with the constant attack of our Enemy.

But here's what Paul Harvey would call, "The rest---of the story!"

Recently, I believe the Holy Spirit encouraged me to consider the results of these moves and leadership actions. On paper, they may look bad. They may, no actually HAVE resulted in gossip or even slander being directed my way. I've certainly done my share of self-punishment. Still, what ARE the fruits of these labors.

Truthfully, I am aware of at least 1,000 people who've become Christ-followers due in part to the changes, mergers, and planting we've done. New churches have launched. Hundreds of ministries have started. And, as my wife has assured me in tears, Jesus seems to be saying, "Well done...good and faithful servants."

So, which perspective shall I chose? Do I see the rain as bad, or as good. Do I see my own career as a failure OR, do I look at the hundreds--perhaps thousands--of changed lives and say, "Thank you Lord that even in our weakness, you are mighty and fruitful!"

I'll chose the latter...and I hope you will do the same when reviewing your own journey....

To that end,

Pastor Joel

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