Over thirty years in, I can’t get over the privilege of being a pastor.
I still remember the day I took note of this verse:
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)
“That’s it,” I remember thinking. “That’s the attitude I want to cultivate in my life. I never want to get over the privilege that God has saved me and appointed me to his service. I never want to forget who I was and how much mercy God has shown to me.”
I wish I could say I’ve done this well. I remember a time when I had more complaints than awe. I’m glad those days are behind me. I can’t get over the privilege.
Eldership is a noble task (1 Timothy 3:1). God had every reason not to even save us. By sheer grace, he did. All the benefits of salvation are ours. Our position with him is secure. Every blessing in Christ is ours. This alone would be enough, but it’s only the beginning.
For some reason, God also choose to use us. We have more weakness than anything else to offer God. Sometimes it feels like we get in the way more than we help. And yet God continues to entrust eternal work in our hands. He blesses us with noble, life-changing work.
And sometimes we don’t even see it for the privilege that it is.
Serving God comes at a cost, of course. Read Paul’s epistles and you discover that it involves suffering and heartache. But the suffering is far outweighed by the privilege we enjoy of being objects of mercy and instruments in his hands.
Sometimes Paul got so caught up in the wonder that he interrupted his own flow of thought in an outburst of praise. If I can get half as lost in wonder that he could choose and use someone like me, I would be grateful.
What I’m trying to say is this: We don’t deserve any of this. God has blessed us far more than we deserve. Those problems in ministry? The suffering and the heartache? The wounds we carry? Those Sundays when we feel like we didn’t preach as well as we’d like? That cranky person we have a hard time loving?
It’s all a privilege. We deserve none of it.
When we remember who we are, the abundance of grace we’ve received, and the nobility of the task he’s given us, it should silence our complaints and fill our hearts with gratitude. And if we can end our days amazed by that grace and grateful for what he’s entrusted to us, we’ll have done well.
May God give us the grace to never get over the privilege of being loved and used by him.