Stop and Count

The last month of the year may be a good time to take inventory, not of the furniture, hymn books, computers and other items, but a different type of inventory an evaluation of what is important in our lives.

Nikolaus Satelmajer is the Editor of Ministry.

Tools, desks, computers, paper, machinery, printers, plastic pipe those are some of the things that businesses use. Because these things, and others, are important, businesses usually take an inventory, making certain that what's needed and vital continues to be available.

I am suggesting to my colleagues in ministry that the last month of the year may be a good time to take inventory, not of the furniture, hymn books, computers and other items, but a different type of inventory an evaluation of what is important in our lives. Usually we are called upon to help others with such questions, but I'm suggesting we do it ourselves. Here are four areas that I believe we need to inventory in our own lives:

My spiritual development:

In our preaching, visitation, evangelism, pastoral counseling and other minis tries we emphasize the importance of spiritual development. What about our own spiritual development? Are we so focused on the spiritual needs of others that we are ignoring our own?

How do we cultivate our spiritual growth? Prayer and time with God's Word are critical. During the last year I have been blessed by reading The Promises of God by H. M. S. Richards.1 Some years ago a Baptist colleague told me that whenever he completed his preaching appointments he would then turn to the Richards' broadcast and receive a blessing. Years later I find myself reading Richards' book daily and next year I plan to start all over. What is your experience? What do you follow for your spiritual development?

My commitment to ministry: How do we measure our commitment to ministry? If someone asks us publicly about our commitment to ministry, we would most likely feel a need to talk about the depth of that commitment. The reality may be different.

Calvin B. Rock writes: "We usually begin our service careers with enthusiastic convictions about which of the gifts of ministry we have been conferred by the Holy Spirit." 2 After serving in ministry for a number of years, some of us may not have the passion as we once did. How do we recapture that passion? I am writing this editorial while conducting evangelistic meetings in Rijeka, Croatia. The church members are organized; they support the meetings and the community response is very enthusiastic. Addition ally, a group of seven young pastors from Croatia and Slovenia are spending time with us. The pastor of the Rijeka Church is likewise a young pastor.3 The oldest is 33 and the youngest is 24. The most experienced has been a pastor for three years and several have been pastors for just over two months. Their vision of ministry and their enthusiasm is encouraging. It is a joy to be with them.

My point? Whether you are discouraged or enthusiastic about your ministry, spend some time with a fellow pastor especially one who has a positive outlook on his pastoring experiences. In the midst of your busy schedule, find such a pastor. Share with each other your challenges, joys and vision for ministry. Both of you will be blessed.

My family: We all have a family parents, spouse, aunts, children, and cousins. However, in our busy calling we sometimes ignore them. But that won't do. God does not expect us to focus on the needs of others at the expense of our families. We have to develop a healthy balance that will focus on our family and our ministry. Yes, there will be emergencies that will require us to delay family commitments, but only genuine emergencies should be allowed to do that. It's likely that we break more promises to our family than we do to any other group.

"I wish I had spent less time with my family." I have never heard such words from older or retired ministers, reflecting on the past. But one of my good friends, a retired minister, looking back on his active years, told me that if he had an opportunity to do it over, he would spend more time with his family members. And he was an individual who, in my evaluation, had not neglected his family.

My time: We do not own time, but we determine how we use the time we have. Ministers often complain about the lack of time. But, perhaps, the biggest challenge is the planning and use of time. If we do not carefully plan our use of the hours of every day, a few individuals or projects will take up an unnecessarily large portion of each day. Focusing on what is important in ministry will help us better utilize the limited time we have.

How does your inventory look? Certainly not the same as a business inventory. It may not even be the same as that of a fellow minister. But you have an inventory that which is important in your personal life and ministry and each of us needs to review it. It's too important to ignore.

1 H. M. S. Richards, The Piomiws of God (Hagerstown, Maryland, USA), 2003 edition.

2 Calvin B. Rock, "Seven Years of Plenty," in God Answers Prayer, William G. Johnsson, compiler (Silver Spring, MD, Attventht Review, 1997), 60.

3 Rijeka, Croatia is a seaport city near the borders of Slovenia and Italy. The Rijeka Church pastor is Zlatko Musija. The pastors from Croatia are: Vladimir Janusic, Neven Klacmer, Dario Kovacevic, Besim Fihp Zecevic. The pastors from Slovenia are: Gorazd Andrejc, Ales Kavkler, Zarko Strahimc.



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Nikolaus Satelmajer is the Editor of Ministry.

December 2005

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