Years ago, Susan and I left our pastorate in Cottondale, AL to plant a church in Anderson, SC. Shortly after I published our decision, I received a letter from a friend, who was in Scottsdale, AZ. It read:
We received your Review (church newsletter) this week and learned of your plans for church planting. Congratulations on your faith and courage—and obedience.
May I share something from personal experience? The work you face ahead is challenging, demanding, lonely, endless, overwhelming and, at times, painful. We have learned it is more demanding to give birth to a new church than care for one that is already in existence and growing. But let me hasten to add that the rewards are more thrilling, satisfying, exciting, meaningful, fulfilling and heartwarming. Perhaps, in a very special way, the Lord will help you to bring into existence a spiritual family that before was not present.
If you are at all concerned about what lies ahead, let me assure you of a greater awareness of the Lord’s faithfulness and a greater appreciation for your calling and ministry.
Thirty years have come and gone since I received that letter. This summer, Lakeside, the church we planted, celebrated 30 years of serving God and their community.
While reflecting, I was reminded that the key that unlocks the door to success is the key of commitment. Someone wrote, Most frustrated quitters never achieve their potential, not because of bad breaks or unusual problems, but because of the failure to commit themselves to their goal regardless of obstacles.
The level of your determination to accomplish your work is measured by what it takes to make you quit. Any reservation in your mind concerning the rightness of your plan will become a roadblock to you. Every great endeavor has a price tag. The greater the job, the higher the price. That price tag is known as commitment.
It was during these days that I framed the quote by H. M. Murray and hung it so that I could see it everyday.
Until one is committed, there is a hesitancy, a chance to draw back. But the moment one definitely commits oneself, then God moves too, and a whole stream of events erupt. All manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings, persons and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way, begins to flow toward him. It all starts when he commits himself.
Last year about this time, our district committed to the task called District Transformation Project. Through weekend consultations, year-long coaching, and periodic lay training events we are endeavoring to bring health to our churches, one at a time.
This weekend, our District Board and Leadership Team will meet to evaluate where we have been as a district, where we are as a district, and where we are headed as a district. I value highly this Leadership Retreat! Working with a group of committed leaders makes the journey more enjoyable and the task more doable.
And as with all other worthwhile enterprises, the DTP demands and deserves our all. Truly, commitment is the key. The letter that I received 30 years ago is still applicable for today!