Two weeks ago, Global Training Network held its annual All-Staff Leadership Gathering via Zoom. Even with the virtual constraints, our team enjoyed a rich time of encouragement, thoughtful reflection and biblical challenge. I came away refreshed!
In one of the sessions, I had the privilege of sharing a few thoughts about our values as a ministry. Below is one five-minute segment of my original 35-minute president’s update:
GTN has several core values, but the one I want to highlight today centers on being a team of people who are “spiritually thriving.”
By that, I mean we live our lives “all in for Jesus… all the way to the end.”
A distinct memory from my early twenties is hearing the late Howard Hendricks speak. He would often say that one of his greatest concerns for Christian leaders was that they were “sliding for home” in their fifties and sixties.
Hendricks said, “Just when these leaders have the most to offer the body of Christ (both locally and globally), they are looking to ‘pack it in.’”
They have “the most to offer” because leaders in these particular decades of life have accumulated an abundance of education (both formal and informal) and practical experience (ministry, family, and life in general).
God’s desire for us is that we leverage for His glory the lessons He has built into our lives over the years.
Here at GTN, we all realize that we have a job to do – a mission to accomplish that is transcendent.
Our mission (to equip and encourage pastors and leaders throughout the Majority World) is not some “social construct” that we have simply made up, but rather it is a divine, God-given, biblical mandate to equip the next generation of pastors and leaders globally.
The Apostle Paul articulated this in 2 Timothy 2:2…
“…and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
Central to the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) is to “make disciples of all the nations… [by] teaching them…”
If this is our mandate from Scripture, we must begin by properly understanding what “the nations” represents. In his book entitled The Hole in our Gospel, author Richard Stearns painted a helpful picture of our world today:
If the world were a village of 100 people…
60 would be Asian
14 would be African
12 would be European
8 would be Latin American
5 would be American or Canadian
1 would be a Pacific Islander
Add to this image the fact that over 80% of all indigenous pastors and leaders throughout the Majority World have no formal (and very little informal) biblical and theological training.
Now, if you saw 10 people trying to carry a huge, heavy log and wanted to help, and nine were on one end and one on the other, which end would you go to?
Truly, the need is great, and the need is global!
Scripture makes it very clear that
we have been blessed to be a blessing to all nations.
(Genesis 12:1-3; Psalm 67)
Renowned author/theologian John Stott regularly reminded believers of the following truth: “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.”
On a more personal note, I am still praying for God to give me the physical and mental health to keep serving Him until I’m 85, which is 25 years away.
25 years is a long time. I would suggest that God can do an incredible amount in 25 years through a person who is wholly yielded to Him – even if those 25 years are in the latter half of a person’s life.
Having said that, I realize that Jesus never promised that serving Him all the way to the end would be easy.
Someone once said, “The life of faith really begins where your comfort zone ends.”
One of my life verses has always been Acts 20:24. In this passage, the Apostle Paul writes the following to the leaders of the church at Ephesus:
“But I consider my life of no value to myself; my purpose is to finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.” (Acts 20:24 CSB)
When I was in college, one of the quotes that most inspired me – and that I have repeated to myself almost every week since – is this one from Jonathan Edwards:
“Resolved: To follow God with all my heart.
Resolved also: Whether others do or not, I will.”
What does this mean for us? It’s setting our face like ‘flint’ – as Jesus did toward Jerusalem.
It’s continuing with that kind of resolve until our final breath on earth.
Dave Maddox, a fellow GTN staff member, recently shared the following quote that I found particularly fitting for this season of life:
“… History tells us that [the Apostle] John was actively involved in ministry in Ephesus until the very end of his life. In fact, it is striking that the literary corpus traditionally ascribed to him (the fourth gospel, the apocalypse, and three epistles) are generally dated to his ‘retirement’ years.”
Pretty amazing ministry for an “old, retired person.”
Here is my challenge for all of us:
Let’s continue to trust God to do great things through us
in the years and decades to come, as we give our lives fully
(as living sacrifices – Romans 12:1)
to serving Him until our final breath.
Is there really anything more important, more valuable – and ultimately more fulfilling – than living for the glory of God?
“After this I looked, and behold,
a great multitude that no one could number,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice,“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
And all the angels were standing around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures,
and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:9-12 ESV)Soli Deo Gloria.