Today, my pastor retired. He preached his last sermon as a Senior Pastor after 26 years serving in that role in the same church. He ended well - he is not leaving due to strife, disunity, or church discord. It is just time for him to move on to something new that God is doing in his life.
As I listened to him give us a final message this morning, I was struck by 3 things:
*It is because of this man’s ministry to my church that I came to a deeper understanding of God’s grace. He has taught me to understand and articulate a clear Gospel message. He has taught me to protect Truth.
*It is because of this man’s impact on my life that my ministry is where it is today. He gave me a chance to offer something untried in our midst - to begin a Biblical Counseling ministry. It quickly became fruitful and even when it became its own entity separate from the church, I was always able to go to him as a ministry partner.
*It is because of this man’s legacy at my church that I see the need to keep a very loose grip on my counseling ministry. It is not “mine” - it is God’s to use as He sees fit, long beyond my years, Lord willing. Ministry should multiply. In other words, it should be able to carry on long past my lifespan. My pastor has left the church physically, but his legacy will remain there forever. Because he poured in to the lives of people there by teaching us and shepherding us, his ministry is multiplying. If we all are mindful that our ministries should multiply, too, the legacy will remain through the generations until heaven.
We will miss our pastor. Things are changing, and we do not know who will fill our Senior Pastor position. But the Gospel remains, and God never changes. In today’s final sermon, he reminded us that we have “hope and strength in the storm.” We are going to be okay. Why? Because our pastor’s ministry has multiplied.
I’m not talking about multiplying programs. It’s about multiplying DISCIPLES.
God’s Word is clear on the concept of Ministry Multiplication. The Great Commandment (Matthew 22:3i7-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) aren’t possible unless we love God, love others, serve all, and make disciples who do the same.
What legacy are you leaving? Will it exist long past your lifespan? If it is Gospel-centered, Truth-filled, and selfless, it will. If it is self-focused, it will wither and fade and it is quite possible that no one in the next generations will know that you existed because you left nothing behind worth keeping.
What I have learned from my pastor is worth keeping. His ministry to me pours out in to my ministry to others. I hope that my ministry to others will pour out of them in to the lives that God allows in their spheres of influence.
My pastor has articulated the Great Commandment and Great Commission well in his ministry, and this is why it has….and will continue….to multiply. I hope and pray mine will do the same.
Thank you, Pastor Steve, for passing on a lasting legacy. You will be missed, and we will be okay.