Robert Rayburn reflects on 20 years of pastoral ministry in the same local church. Glorious and beautiful words!
And, in some ways, a long ministry is especially so. In a two or three or four year ministry one can live off first impressions. No one gets to know you all that well and then off you go to make first impressions on another congregation. But after ten years and fifteen and twenty the warts begin to show, the shortcomings are spotted, reservations that were kept at bay by good will are confirmed against hope by repeated observation. The stages of life come and go and the fruit of one’s walk with God through many years appears or fails to appear. I know it has been so for you in regard to me. But, that is not bad — that is good. No one said we were not and would not remain sinners while in this world. And I am forced by that fact, that you see and know me, to care about my life before God and before all of you and to care that I do not allow myself to stop in mid-stream but that for my ministry’s sake and your sake and God’s name’s sake I continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of God, lest, to my judgment and loss, all of you be put to sleep by my example and by my tiresome preaching of old and tired thoughts unrenewed by new and vital experiences of the grace of God and the presence of Christ.