Legacy After Our Ministries: Continuity
Jehovah gives instructions to Elijah the prophet concerning Elisha
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on thy way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when thou comest, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shalt thou anoint to be king over Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shalt thou anoint to be prophet in thy room.
(1 Kings 19)
Not going anywhere for a while? Grab a Snickers, says the chocolate commercial. If you are feeling frustrated, confused or tired, the commercial product offers you a sweet break. A satisfaction while you wait. What if you feel like retiring is coming? Do you escape from ministry? Elijah did.
The prophet of fire prayed, and it did not rain for more than three years. He prayed, and fire came from heaven. He prayed one more time, and rain poured. But now, the evil queen Jezebel, instead of killing the prophet, threatens him. He feels alone and scared. He feels that retiring from ministry is the best idea and he asks God to take his life.
Many feel like retiring, but before God takes his prophet of fire home, Elijah needed to train someone and leave him in office. God chose Elisha to be anointed by the praying prophet. It deeply impresses me that God did not bring Elijah to heaven as soon as Elisha was anointed, but God allowed a continuity in ministry between both men of God. Elisha served Elijah while learning how to serve God and his people.
My question is, why do we send resumes to other churches when my actual ministry is not where God wants me to be? Why can we leave without training the next youth minister, senior pastor or music minister? Why do we choose no continuity in our ministries? Where does this idea come from? Not from Jesus, not from his apostles, not from not from Elijah, not from God.
I guess we bring corporate America success into our ministries. We assume that if it works in the corporate world, it will also work in our ministries. So, if a pastor that has not committed any sin or shame to his ministry, we, as corporate America apprenticeships, ask the pastor to leave, then appoint a search committee, hire the right candidate and he will figure out where did the last ministry stopped. We do it in all levels. Church staff, Pastors, Director of Ministries.
We should apply God’s perspective on Continuity in Ministry. Allow the next minister to meet his predecessor, his Elijah, to learn from him, work with him, serve him, and when God tells the learner “I am taking your leader from you” he waives him good-bye.
So, then, we can choose what to assess, change, improve from the legacy we are receiving. We can try some changes after we have learned how ministry was done before I came on board. I believe that this can save a lot of time, energy, and avoid losing families from our churches.
Pastoral career seems to be above God’s kingdom. It looks like it is well to leave a church without pastor for a year or two. Why would this be God’s will? What would God be teaching today if he did not intend this with Joshua and Moses, Elisha and Elijah, Jesus and John, Saul and Barnabas. I ask myself if God’s kingdom is more important than my personal career as pastor or Director of Missions?
Maybe there is a blessing while we wait and though it does not have chocolate flavor, it has God’s purpose all over the time spent training my substitute. Maybe continuity in ministry makes churches enjoy stability and ministry can be done without hurting the sheep in the process.
Churches searching for Senior Pastor: China Grove First, Enon Baptist, and Stallings Memorial. Two more churches will be looking for senior pastor during the summer. We will have a total of five pastoral search committees needing our prayers.
This week Vacation Bible Schools turn on their engines, so we pray for:
1. Visitors to our churches. Their parents and guardians.
2. Volunteers to have energy to remain beyond the VBS week.
3. Conversions that will become disciples in our churches.
4. Wisdom for our leaders, teachers and pastors.
5. Safety as many churches drive children to and from VBS activities.
Pray for our pastoral search committees and the pastors that God already has chosen for our churches. Pray that our churches will hire Southern Baptist pastors. This will enhance the missions work of our churches and increase the unity between church and new pastor regarding missionary and evangelistic work.
Your local missionary,
Jonas Perez, Director of Missions