Five years ago, I was ready to quit. I was ready to hang it up and do something else for the rest of my life. I was through pastoring – even though I had only done it for two and a half years. It was the lowest point in my life. Anything seemed better than pastoring. There was only one problem, nine years ago, I had given God my plan B.
You see, when I was in college, I was crafty, believing that I would have a secular undergraduate degree that might serve me well if the church did not. I thought it was a great plan. The biggest fault in my plan was that I had failed to ask Jesus what His opinion was. After some less than gentle coaxing, Jesus reminded me that He was not in the business of Plan B’s. So, in a painful act of submission, I turned over my plan B to my Savior and followed the pathway that He preferred.
That was fine, except for when I needed my Plan B five years ago. I was ready to do anything except pastor a church. To complicate matters, I had been offered a lucrative position as the executive director of a parachurch ministry in Birmingham. I was promised by the chairman of the board of directors that I would be paid whatever salary I needed. Maybe Plan B was resurrecting.
The problem was that no matter how much I thought about Plan B, it never seemed right. As difficult a time as I was going through, I couldn’t imagine leaving the service of the local church to do something else. It didn’t matter how good or noble that something else might seem, it wasn’t what God wanted for me.
In the middle of this wrestling match, I got a call from a search committee in Newnan, Georgia. They had my resume and wanted to talk with me about being their pastor. The rest is history. Here I am, four years later, with the best job in the world.
Ultimately, I want to say thank you for four years of ministry. I realize that there were many men you could have picked who were more qualified, with more experience, more education, and better sermons. Somehow or another, you called me to be your pastor. Over the last four years, I have made lots of mistakes, but I have tried to learn from them. We have celebrated many triumphs and walked through many tragedies. Through it all, I hope that I have lived up to your expectations, but more importantly, I hope I have met the expectations of our Savior.
Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway, pleasing Jesus. My greatest pitfalls in life have come as a result of my attempting to please myself before pleasing Jesus. I truly believe that some of our greatest problems today come as a result of this simple mix-up. I know that my life has been littered with “plan B’s” – seemingly innocuous plans, goals, and perceptions that suggest that my pleasure, my desires, my wants are more important than what Jesus would have for me. If we were honest, we would all acknowledge our tendency to feed our pleasures and preferences rather than serving Jesus.
My prayer for us as we continue this journey together is that we will eliminate our “plan B’s.” That the only plan we will abide by is the plan established by Jesus. That we will be willing to put self to the side that Jesus might be glorified. That we will all work for the delight of Jesus, not the delight of man. I’m still excited to be your pastor. Are you excited to be a part of Northside Baptist Church? If so, let’s get busy, we’ve got work to do!