Top Quotes from Sensing Jesus

If you are a pastor, I can't recommend Sensing Jesus by Zack Eswine enough. It gets at the heart of my idolatries, which is why I need to read it regularly. It reminds me of Eugene Peterson's pastoral books, and The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen. This, my friends, is a compliment.

Here are eight of my favorite quotes from Sensing Jesus:

On looking to upgrade our ministries — Therefore, those of you searching for something larger, faster, and more significant, who feel that if you could just be somewhere else doing something else as somebody else, then your life would really matter— Jesus has come to confound you. (p. 40)

On our desire for celebrity and advancement — He alone is the famous one. Jesus values waiting, not haste. His views regarding what it means to advance often have little to do with changing positions, sizes, or geographies. How then do we find strength and joy for the long smallness we often endure and feel? (p. 172)

On our desire for greatness — Our goal of greatness isn’t the problem. How we define the word great is. (p. 37)

On learning our limits and relinquishing our dreams — To relinquish; to admit that some dreams are presumptuous; to acknowledge that some needs outlast me; to recognize my inability to fully supply what is lacking; to admit that I am limited; to say no to competition with brothers and sisters, and to give to others what I strongly desired for myself; and in it all to still take up the pen or give voice to preach Jesus— these indicate a surrender to noble limits. (p. 19)

On the fact we'll be forgotten — God is the remembered one. But this does not mean we are forgotten— not by him. Not by a long shot. In fact, being remembered by him means we no longer fear being forgotten by the world. Living humanly within his remembrance is enough. (p. 19)

On greatness and humanness — Greatness, even in ministry, cannot escape humanity. How did I ever begin to assume that it was supposed to? Being human does not mar greatness; it informs it and sets its noble boundaries. (p. 30)

On feeling out of our depth — We concluded that if we were to say to God, “Father, I constantly feel out of my depth,” God would gently ask, “And why is that a problem?” (p. 36)

On the ways we lead the church — Many of us in ministry and family leadership hastily dynamite our way through obstacles and people. We create well-respected and efficient organizations and homes but leave a trail of persons and places obliterated in our wake. Ironically, we often unnecessarily hurt people in the name of building God’s organization and doing God’s work. (p. 155)

My copy of Sensing Jesus is dog-eared and marked. It's one of those books that I need to read when my motivations for ministry get out of whack. In other words, I need to read it often.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Negative Preparation

In his book The Making of a Leader, Robert Clinton describes what he calls “negative preparation items.”

God often prepares someone to accept the next steps of guidance by first allowing them to go through negative experiences during their present development phase….Negative preparation involves God’s use of events, people, conflict, persecution, and experiences that focus on the negative, in order to free a person from the present situation to enter the next phase of development with revitalized interest.

We need to be careful. Painful situations are not always a reason to leave.

God may want to use the situation to mature your character, as described in James 1:2-4, and this should not be confused with the negative preparation item in which God wants to break you loose from a situation in order to move you on to something you might not otherwise choose.

The negative situation leads to release, so that we “can be free to embrace a new ministry that would probably never have been considered without the negative preparation process item.”

God can redeem even the toughest experiences of our lives. In his grace, he can use even the negative experiences to launch us into the most fruitful and life-giving seasons of our lives.

 

Remarkable for Being Unremarkable

An editorial I read this week quipped that nobody reports on the planes that land safely every day. Point taken. In the same way, nobody ever reports on the pastors who labor in obscurity, quietly fulfilling their ministries. They will never be known by the world, but they are known by God.

I visited with a pastor this month who took on a small church that couldn’t afford to pay him much. The church has grown, and so has the budget. Instead of taking more money, he encouraged the church to increase their givings to other ministries, including our church plant. He is not a famous pastor or a well-paid pastor, but he’s a generous and faithful pastor. That counts.

I had lunch with another pastor this month who’s had an effective ministry. He’s one of the best leaders I know, and a faithful man of God. He should be well-known, but he’s not. He told me that he chose long ago to reject the invitations to build a name for himself. Instead, he’s kept his head down and made that local church his main work. He could have travelled the conference circuit, but instead he’s been content to be a local church pastor. That counts in God’s eyes.

I keep meeting people who are remarkable for being unremarkable. They have chosen to serve rather than to make names for themselves, and have chosen to give rather than to keep what could have been theirs.

An interviewer once asked Edith Schaeffer, “Who is the greatest Christian woman alive today?” She replied, “We don’t know her name. She is dying of cancer somewhere in a hospital in India.” Who is the greatest pastor alive today? We probably don’t know. It’s possible that this pastor is unappreciated and feels like a failure. But God knows. This pastor will never be known by the world, but is known and loved by God.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Two Sets of Virtues

It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love? (David Brooks)

I’ll admit that I’m attracted to the résumé virtues. Who wouldn’t want to be known as a gifted communicator, a beloved pastor, a clear writer, and a successful church planter?

Then there are the eulogy virtues that will never make it onto a résumé. In fact, they may make my résumé less impressive: man of prayer, husband and father who made time for wife and kids, servant who didn’t chase limelight, good friend, man who cared.

A friend of mine was asked by a search committee what he desired if he came to their church. To his credit, he responded with a list that reflected mostly eulogy virtues. It would be great for the church to grow, but what he wanted most, he said, was to love the Lord more, to love his wife more, and so on. It wasn't the answer they expected.

The older I get, the more I recognize my desire for the résumé virtues, and the less I trust this desire. In the end, it’s the eulogy virtues that I really need. I’m praying instead for a character God can use rather than accomplishments others can admire.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

The Benefits of an Annual Study Group

Every year I gather with a small group of pastors for a week. We meet the same week every year. The agenda is simple: on Tuesday morning we catch up, and then we get to work under the leadership of a Bible scholar. By the end of the week, we've completed our study of a book of the Bible or a theme (like the parables) and are on our way to being ready to preach what we've studied.

Photo compliments of Chris Brauns

Photo compliments of Chris Brauns

This honestly is a highlight of my year. Some reasons:

The relationships — Having met with the same group for a number of years now, I really appreciate these people and look forward to seeing them every year. There's something about walking with a group of fellow pastors over the long haul, even if you only see them once a year.

The Word — While pastors should always be in the Word, we have to fight for time of study. It is a treat to dedicate a few days to the in-depth study that we crave.

The format — It's one thing to read a commentary. It's another thing to have a commentator in the room. And it's one thing to work alone on the big idea and approach to a sermon based on a text. It's another thing to sit in a room full of sharp people and work on it together.

The break — I am usually tired by this time of year. I've come through winter and Easter, but haven't yet slowed down for summer. This May retreat is a good opportunity to take a breath and begin to slow down, or at least change gears from the frantic pace of ministry.

We're not the only ones who do this. Other formal and informal groups hold retreats or colloquiums. It meets a real need.

If you know some like-minded pastors with a high commitment to the Word, and they're interested in dedicating a few days a year to this kind of thing, then you have a lot of what's needed. I'll bet you can find a Bible scholar (completely optional) who would be delighted to help you work through a portion of Scripture as you prepare to preach it.

I've often wondered why groups like this aren't more common. Try it. Big conferences are good, but I'd trade ten of them for one of these.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.