Pastor’s Ponderings

Seven Life Goals

A year ago, April 2022, I attended a Small-Town Pastor’s conference with the Rural Home Missionary Association (RHMA) in Morton, Illinois. It was very encouraging; spending parts of 3 days with other pastors within the same ministry context was a breath of fresh air to me. I was just about 6 weeks removed from the pastoral sabbatical I took from early January through mid-March. I wasn’t yet functioning at my best, so it really helped me land well back in pastoral reality.

One of the presenters was a church planting pastor in Concord, New Hampshire, David Pinckney. During his presentation, he listed 7 life goals that he has for his ministry. I found the idea to be fascinating, and have personalized much of it for my own consideration and use.

1 – Stick with Jesus. Really, this seems like it should be Jesus sticking with me. I will seek to stick with Jesus in every aspect of my life. Here’s how Paul summarizes this goal for me – “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 English Standard Version)

2 – Stick with Jan. The first marriage was solemnized in Genesis 2:24. I prefer the way the King James Version has this, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Notice that word “cleave.” Guess what it means? “To glue, to adhere, to join, to stick.”

3 – Raise our kids to stick with Jesus. As parents, sometimes we didn’t know what to do. One place Scripture helps with childrearing is Colossians 3:21 – “Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged.” Raising our children to be active in a local congregation was an encouragement. God was pleased to save Zach and Molly from their sins unto eternal life. Similarly, we could apply this goal to our precious granddaughter Georgia. We will do what we can to help Zach and Clare raise her to stick with Jesus. (We witness this in a special way everytime we apply the mark of God’s covenant to our children in baptism).

4 – Lead a church in Western Illinois that does serious damage to the kingdom of darkness. Satan hates Jesus. He also hates the Church because she belongs to Jesus. That means we will suffer at times; suffering is the church’s vocation. Even sometimes to the extent that conflict is in our midst. I am comforted by Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 16:18, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (hell) shall not prevail against it.” (New King James Version) To doggedly proclaim the gospel in all places is like pounding on the evil one.

5 – Contribute to the greater cause. The church is the apple of God’s eye. We are precious to Him individually and collectively. Romans 12:4-8 reveals that God has a greater cause, and He has gifted each of us for the benefit of the Church. “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

6 – Have fun. I think Christians are the funnest people. That doesn’t mean the kingdom of darkness doesn’t have fun; it’s just not sanctified fun, and is therefore sinful. I also think Christians are the funniest people. As redeemed children, we have every reason to have fun. Paul wrote to the Philippian Christians, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4). In writing to the church at Thessalonica Paul wrote, “Rejoice always.” (I Thessalonians 5:16). Cheer up, friends! We’re are God’s people! Because He delights in us, we can have fun!

7 – Die while still in the game. I did lots of time on the bench. I was 5 feet, one inch tall (short?) my junior year of high school. I loved basketball, but it didn’t love me. I was such a shrimp; I weighed maybe 120 pounds. I was a third stringer. I got in a game with less than a minute remaining on the clock and our team leading by 20 points (or losing by 20 points, but we had a pretty good team, so that didn’t happen often!) I did my time! I want to be fully in the game, and die while still in it. I don’t want to finish my life on earth with a whimper or a moan. Moses died at the age of 120. This is how Deuteronomy 34:7 describes him, “His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.”

There you have it. Seven life goals. I’m registered for the Small Town Pastor’s Conference again this spring – it will be Monday, April 17th to Wednesday, April 19th. I hope you’ll pray for me to benefit greatly; if I benefit, then you benefit, too. I look forward to being filled again by the Spirit and growing deeper in love with the small town church. Glad you’re part of ours; hope you feel the same way.

Yours in Jesus, Pastor Daren