Six Lessons I Learned in the Waiting

Originally published at Lifeway’s Pastor’s Today Blog.

Nearly five years ago, I walked into Dr. Greg Mathis’ office and shared with him that I believed God was leading me to become a Senior Pastor. That seems like a long time ago. In some ways, those years seemed an eternity. In another sense, they passed rapidly. When I first shared with Pastor Greg, part of me thought I would enter into a Senior Pastor position quickly. Well, that didn’t happen. Let me offer some of the lessons I’ve learned in the waiting process.

  1. I needed to discover that I wasn’t ready. Regularly, I face the temptations to be critical and self-confident. Oftentimes, I can find fault in a situation, decision, or circumstance. I can also rely on my wit or intelligence. In this waiting period, God showed me these faults as well as others. He revealed to me my need to depend on Him and not myself. When the process began, I wasn’t ready because I was dependent on myself and not on the Lord.
  2. I needed to discover that I was ready. Lessons one and two are paradoxical. While I felt self-confident about some of what lay ahead, sometimes I wasn’t sure I could handle the role of a Senior Pastor. The waiting period assured me of God’s calling, of His provision, His wisdom, and that He would enable me to accomplish His calling on my life. I’m more certain of His empowerment than I’ve ever been, and I’m sure I’ll need that confidence in the days ahead.
  3. God’s kingdom purposes are bigger than our desires. The time of waiting settled for me God’s calling on my life. Early on in the process, I wanted to be a Senior Pastor because I wanted to preach, because I wanted to lead, etc. As time progressed, I came to realize that my wants could not and should not be the driving factor. Rather, God wanted me to serve in the role of Senior Pastor because that fit into His kingdom purposes. Psalm 37:4 reads, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Our desires must follow God’s purposes; God’s purposes don’t follow our desires.
  4. There are things you can only learn while waiting. I wouldn’t trade the process I went through for anything. My mentor, Dr. Mathis, told me several months ago that there were things I could only learn in the waiting process. He was right. Learning to be patient, prayerful, discerning, to ask the right questions could only have happened in a process.
  5. Finding the right fit can take time. I realize this lesson might be quite unique for my experience. Dr. Mathis gave me the privilege to wait and pursue the right fit for a Senior Pastor position while I continued my ministry at Mud Creek. Some in a staff role are not afforded that privilege and some in a Senior Pastor’s role have to exit more quickly than they may wish. With that said, I’m grateful that God had me wait. Wilkesboro Baptist Church is not only a solid church, but also a great fit for my strengths and my family. God favored me by placing me here, and I’m grateful I waited on him.
  6. When God makes things clear, they are crystal. The Pastor Search Committee of Wilkesboro Baptist Church exhibited spiritual excellence. They prayed for a number of things specifically. God graciously affirmed their/our requests making His will known with clarity. To a person, they felt led to serve on the committee. Wilkesboro Baptist Church was 100% affirmative in their committee selection. To a person, the committee settled on me as their first candidate. They prayed that God would send a buyer for our house in Hendersonville, which He did the weekend I preached in view of a call and two days before the house went on the market. How’s that for affirmation timing? I could keep going, but suffice it to say, God made it abundantly clear He was leading me to Wilkesboro Baptist Church.

For me, the ultimate lesson in this process has been God deepening my faith in Him. And for me to please Him as a Senior Pastor, for Wilkesboro Baptist Church to please Him in the future, and indeed for any of us to please Him in our lives, we need faith (Hebrews 11:6). I’m only sharing with you my experience, but I’m hopeful God might use the lessons I’ve learned in the process to encourage you and strengthen your faith.

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