In the second installment in a blog series about his church planting journey, the Rev. Jamie George reflects on his struggle with milking goats when he’d rather be doing ministry.
Many of us have read or heard stories about the Old Testament saints like Abraham, Joseph, Moses and David. When we read about them, we often spend time thinking, reflecting and pondering on the major events of their lives. Or if we hear someone talk about one of them, the focus tends to be on the major events in their lives. But what do we do with the parts of their stories that sound, well, ordinary?
For instance, “Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law” (Exodus 3:1) or “David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s flock at Bethlehem” (1 Samuel 17:15). There are many such moments mentioned within the Scriptures. Many of us tend to skim over them and don’t give much thought to those verses; I know I’m guilty of doing it. Why do we do that? Why do we treat the mundane moments of life as though they are unimportant or insignificant? As I have been preparing to church plant, a lot of my days are very ordinary, or at least they seem that way.
Over the past few months I have had a lot of time to think, study, pray, reflect and prepare for the future. God cleared my schedule—unexpectedly, I might add. We had spent seven years in Colorado studying at Denver Seminary and serving in multiple churches. I loved serving as a Missionary Priest in Mission churches and I have often wished that I were already serving in another church. However, toward the end of 2013, my family sold our house and moved to Whitewater, Kansas, to be close to my wife’s family. We moved here in order to discern what our next step should be, rather certain that step was church planting.
While living here, my wife and I have often joked about the fact that we now have cows for neighbors. And if I were to be totally honest, there are many days that I feel like I’m wasting my time. This is partly due to the fact that I find it hard to know how to fulfill my ordination vows as we wait for God to make the next step clear. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed much of our time here. But most days, especially at the beginning of our time here, I felt like this is such a waste of my time. Why is that? Why is it that I feel this way at times, even though I know God has led me to be where I am? Do you think David struggled with similar thoughts as he waited day in and day out watching sheep? How was he able to remain content while tending the sheep out in the fields just after Samuel had anointed him to be the king of Israel? It must have been because “the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward” (1 Samuel 16:13).
When I accepted Jesus’ call to follow Him back in 2004, I had no clue where He would take me, but I knew I wanted to go wherever He led me. That wasn’t the case prior to receiving Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Now I must admit there have been times when I have struggled with places God was leading me to go. Thoughts like, “How will I live (i.e., buy food, clothes, pay rent) without having a job lined up?” After getting married and having children, I began to struggle with things like, “How will this move affect my family?” And most recently the biggest question on my mind, now that I know God has gifted me and put it on my heart to plant a church, is “When are You going to show me where to go to make disciples and equip them for the work of ministry?”
Each time those types of questions come to mind, the Holy Spirit reminds me of my heavenly Father and His promises to His people. The one that has been the greatest source of encouragement over the past few months as I prepare to church plant has been Jesus’ promise to provide for the needs of His disciples as they seek first His kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:25-34). He is faithful! That doesn’t mean it’s been easy though.
I never imagined that Jesus would pull me out of the battle per se and take me to a place where I would be milking goats, gathering chicken eggs and installing fences. Nevertheless, I now realize God has led me here to prepare me for the next ministry. For some reason, I’m a little dumbfounded that Jesus has used this time away from serving as a pastor to teach me more and more about what it means to be His disciple–even though I knew Jesus often led His disciples out into the wilderness or up on a mountain in order to be alone with them to disciple them.
One of the lessons Jesus is currently teaching me is simply how to be content and wait patiently on Him, which is so very difficult for a few reasons: one is that my personality drives me to do things, which was affirmed in my Church Planting Assessments. Secondly, we live in a culture that screams instant gratification. Learning to be content is a very important lesson for disciples of Christ to learn. It really isn’t easy, but it is worth it to simply live faithfully in the ordinary moments of life knowing that God is right there with you. In my case, it has proven to be a sabbatical I didn’t know I needed—if working around a farm, taking Church Planter Assessments and doing carpentry work can be considered a sabbatical. Seriously though, God has used this time to heal and prepare my heart for what lies ahead in a way only He could have planned.
As I was writing this, I thought back to David’s story. Prior to David’s epic battle with Goliath, Saul tells David all the reasons why he cannot defeat Goliath. But David enlightens Saul on how God delivered him from a bear and a lion while shepherding the sheep. The ordinary task of shepherding proved to be the place where God had prepared him for the extraordinary task of defeating Goliath! I don’t know what giants I will face in church planting, but I am certain God is using these commonplace moments to prepare me for the remarkable things to come.
How do you practice contentment during a season of waiting and preparation?
Jamie George is living as a Missionary Priest in Whitewater, Kansas, with his wife, Joy, and their two sons, Breeson and Eagan. They are currently seeking where God is calling them to plant a church. Contact Jamie.