I’m so blessed to be here at Central. And so privileged to be serving with a group of church elders who rely so much on our heavenly Father and so little on themselves. What a joy!
The shepherds here at Central are an accomplished bunch. Each of them has enjoyed many levels of success in business, in society, in family, and in church life. I’m serving with men who are retired educators, retired TXDOT roadworkers, and retired CPS social workers. Our elders include a dentist, an opthalmologist, and a pharmaceutical salesman who used to play college football and still looks like he could line up against Demarcus Ware. We’ve got a power plant engineer, an oil and gas engineer who’s achieved at the highest levels of the international energy industry, and a man who’s constructed half the big buildings in Amarillo. There’s a commercial real estate leader, a hospice administrator, and a financial planner. These are competent men. Full of brains and brawn, experts in their fields, offices full of awards and trophies and medals. Well respected leaders of commerce and service and trade. Big thinkers, excellent communicators, magnetic personalities.
Because they spend so much time praying.
They don’t rely on their own achievements or gifts. They don’t count on their own cunning or craft. They depend wholly on God. Constantly. Consistently.
Three quick examples that have blown me away recently:
Two weeks ago we were in the middle of a question regarding an issue — a policy, really — that had been implemented some time ago but had been put on hold by the preacher search. Two of our shepherds who stood to benefit the most from re-starting the policy had brought it up and requested that we move forward. Following some very brief discussion, it was decided unanimously to get it going again. To which one of those two elders said, “Hey, I really appreciate the vote; thank you so much for the decision. But, can we not implement it just yet? Can we take the next two weeks and just commit to praying about this? I want to make sure this is really God’s will and not just a decision we’ve made tonight based on anything else. Let’s all promise to pray about this for two weeks and then come together on it one more time. If, after two weeks of prayer, nothing’s changed, then let’s move forward with our God’s blessing.”
Last night we were in the middle of our budget presentation. It’s a two-million-dollar annual budget. Lots of numbers. Lots of decisions. Lots of ministries and buildings and salaries and maintenance and outreach. Lots of detail. And right in the middle of it, one of our shepherds stopped the whole meeting down. “Hey, guys, we’ve really been blessed here by our God. Over 90% of the pledges for our capital campaign, more than 200-thousand dollars in extra giving for extra ministries that aren’t even in our budget, debt-free with emergency money in reserve. Can we just stop for a minute or two and thank our Father?”
And we did. We stopped everything, put our arms around each other, and prayed. This elder confessed his lack of faith, told God in front of all of us that there was a time when he never would have imagined these kinds of blessings for Central. He begged for forgiveness and then poured out his heart and guts in praise and thanksgiving to the faithful Giver of all good gifts.
And then again, at the end of last night’s meeting, another prayer. Of course. It’s what these guys do. “Lord, empower us and enable us to walk with people, to help people and serve people, who won’t serve us back. To walk with people who may not even love us back.”
My spirit is refreshed to be among so many who won’t hardly make a move without immersing it in prayer. I am re-energized by this faithful focus on the One who is the source of all energy. I’m thrilled with the commitment all around me to be in constant communication with the Originator of all joy. And I’m confident and bold, full of courage and strength, as we all depend so completely on the Father who promises to work everything out to his glory and praise.
Preachers, I beg you to pray. Elders, I beg you to immerse your meetings in prayer. Teachers, small group leaders, deacons and ministry leaders and committee chairs, drown your meetings in prayer. There’s not another thing you can do that can produce more peace and courage around the table than to confess to God in the presence of one another that he alone is the instigator and finisher of all the great works of the Kingdom of Heaven.