1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
As I have mentioned earlier God has been working in my life with this passage. As I journey with Him He has been developing these things within me. Perseverance is something that I have had to learn. I have the track record of walking away from things that are difficult. But God has been patiently at work in my heart developing this trait. Obviously perseverance is not fully developed until my life is over. I will not be able to say I have persevered until the end until the end comes.
Rebekah and I began dating eleven years ago this month. That is more than one third of my life. Staying together this has long required perseverance for both of us. Not that we have had a lot of problems but we have had to adjust to each other and the changes that have happened in our lives. In July we will celebrate ten years of marriage. Let me let you in on a little secret, it takes ten years to be married for ten years. There aren’t any short cuts to be taken. And no matter how good your marriage is it will have a different flavor after ten years and I suspect it will have more depth after twenty five years and Lord willing after forty years and fifty years. There aren’t any short cuts.
I am learning that there aren’t any short cuts to learning perseverance either. But it is necessary to persevere through all kinds of experiences in order to develop character. Character doesn’t form over night either. Tomorrow I think I will post a little more on character. But before God began working on character I had to learn to persevere. Things aren’t the way I want them to be in my life or my church. I have had some disappointment, mainly with myself. But instead of walking away God is teaching me to push ahead, to keep trying and to leave time for Him to do His work while I do mine. So I have been learning not to be a quitter.
That’s an important lesson. Most pastors stay in a church for two to three years and then move on to another church or they leave the ministry all together. While it’s not always the pastor’s fault that they move on this transitory nature of pastoral tenure has led to many of the problems the church is facing today. So if I was going to share something about what I have learned as a pastor with young ministers who are just starting out it would this: You must first learn to persevere.
James 1 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. 4Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.