A few days ago, a good friend who is planting a church in Chattanooga, TN called me. I hadn’t heard from him in a while. It was late Saturday night and he was desperately trying to finish his Sunday sermon and remembered an illustration/story he had heard me use years earlier in a message I gave at a leadership retreat.
He wanted to know if I still had that message and the illustration.
All of my old files from my pastor/ministry days are on one external hard drive (mental note to self: I should really make a back-up of those files!) The sermon and message files aren’t all in one place. They are scattered throughout different filing systems as I had separate files for all my different ministry jobs… six different church and parachurch ministries in 12 years.
Suffice it to say it can take a while to find any one particular sermon, talk or message.
So to find what he was looking for, I had to work though some old files and messages. It is interesting to see the recurrent themes that come up in one’s preaching and speaking. If I could create a “word cloud” of my preaching over the past 12 years, I think some of the key words that would come up big are JESUS, love, grace, forgiveness, purpose, discipleship, follow, surrender, worship, change the world, risk-taking.
I have preached often on the importance of TAKING RISKS as Christ-followers — because we are called to be WORLD CHANGERS.
Looking over these messages — in addition to a conversation I had with another pastor friend a few days ago — led me to start asking some tough questions of myself.
- Are Christ-followers allowed to play it safe?
- Is it okay to not want to change the world?
- Am I still willing to take BIG RISKS for GOD?
- What does this all mean for me over the next 25 years?
- Is cooking a vocation, tent-making or net-tending activity for me? Which should it be?
I don’t have the answers to these questions yet… but I am wrestling with them.