It’s one year since retirement from the pastorate at Lake Country Bible Church. We enjoyed a couple of weeks in May visiting and reconnecting with our church family, our children and grandchildren, and our friends. It was a wonderful time.
It has also been a year of reflection thinking back over the last 19 years of full-time ministry. To say we learned a lot would be an understatement. I have often advised people not to get into full-time ministry unless willing to learn the hard things. Attending a beautiful church like LCBC is a good training ground for church leadership. You will learn the hard things because your congregation is spiritually mature and holds you to a higher standard. So whether you are pastoral staff, support staff, elders, deacons, or Bible teachers be prepared to learn.
For me the hardest lesson I had to learn was how not to pick up the sword. We are all guilty of it. All of us at one time or another have wanted to strike back at individuals in and out of the church who hurt us in words or deeds. Now I’m all for constructive criticism that is shared in Christian love and truth. We should exhort and correct one another in that spirit. But what about the times we are judged unfairly or spoken to or about in an unloving way? I can hear my flesh screaming “Pick up the sword. Defend yourself. Strike back. KILL!” But God provides a better plan in those moments-don’t pick up the sword.
King David is my go-to-hero in regards to this truth. As a young man, he was chased down by Saul who wanted him dead. And even though David had opportunity to pick up the sword and finish Saul, he never did.
1 Samuel 24:1-7
Later in life, his own son rebelled against him. David was king and with one word could have done away with Absolom. Yet he commanded his army to “deal gently with him”.
2 Samuel 18:5
David never picked up the sword. David was by no means perfect, yet God considered him a man after his own heart. Not picking up the sword is a tough lesson to learn when the Sauls and Absoloms of life come against you. But David knew well that his God was greater than all his enemies. He wrote Psalm 3 because his son was seeking to kill him. He proclaimed:
“But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Psalm 3:3
So don’t pick up the sword! It’s a hard lesson but it’s one that can only benefit and bless you.