New years often bring new resolutions. But our present need may not be for a new resolution but a new commitment. In these days of uncertainty, I believe God is calling pastors first to a new commitment to His Word. Not to study as a duty or study for a sermon but because of a thirst to know more of Him.
Second, I believe God is calling pastors to a new commitment to service. When He comes, He will not say, “Good servant, you went faithfully to church and preached from your pulpit.” He will say, “I was poor, naked, and hungry, and you took care of Me; come into My inheritance” (Matt. 25:34–36).
Third I believe God is calling pastors to a new commitment to prayer. Not prayer as a routine or in crisis but prayer without ceasing—prayer as a way of life. A new and total commitment involving absolute surrender because it is much easier to complete things for God than to commit self to God.
He awakens me
Jesus woke up early and started the day with prayer, often praying the whole night. If Jesus needed prayer, how much more do we need prayer? Not prayer just to seek His help but prayer just to know His heart (John 17:3). When I was young, I asked my prayer-warrior father, “How do I wake up in the morning when God wants me to wake up?” He replied, “ ‘He awakens Me morning by morning, / He awakens My ear / To hear as the learned’ ” (Isa. 50:4, NKJV). So I made it a habit of asking God to wake me up each morning when He wanted me to awake.
At the end of my last year of construction engineering studies, the most important exam that decided my passing or failing arrived. But the night before, I stayed up late talking with friends. Before I fell asleep, I did not ask God to wake me up because I was afraid He would wake me up too early. I woke up 30 minutes before the final was to start! I read a very short verse and said a quick 10-word prayer. When I ran to the door to leave, God reminded me, “ ‘Seek first the kingdom of God’ ” (Matt. 6:33, NKJV). Then came my father’s words: “You need to fully surrender all daily.”
So I turned around and opened my Bible, which opened to “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8, NIV). Uh, was I supposed to consider my school year a loss?
Then I opened another book I was studying and read, “Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ’s loving presence, pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With their burdens they return to their work.”1
All to Jesus
I decided right then to recommit my life to Jesus and make Him above all things at any price, even my year of schooling. I took time to pray and study the Word; two hours went quickly.
I finished worship and then wondered, Should I even go to school? The exam will be over by the time I get there. But I felt I should go, so I went to school. When I entered the classroom, the students were sitting there, waiting.
One said, “Pavel, how did you know the teacher would not show up?”
“I didn’t,” I replied.
“The teacher was caught in a very bad traffic jam and told us he would be here soon.”
The teacher came after that; I took the exam and passed with flying colors. I did not lose my school year; rather, I experienced God’s faithfulness.
God is calling pastors to a new commitment in the study of God’s Word, involvement in Christian service, and faithfulness in prayer. God wants our thirst to find Jesus to exceed our burden to preach Jesus.
God is faithful! He can do His work much better through you than you could ever do it on your own. Trust in His promises and believe that all other things will be provided.
- Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1903), 260.