Positives and Negatives
When your conversation to others concerns the people your are serving with, accentuate the positives and keep the negatives close to home, such as with a pastor or someone with whom you are seeking insights.
When you start a conversation, you have no control over where it will go and where it will end. The perceptions that you have today will most likely look entirely different to you five or ten years from now. Instead of having those negatives floating around, be wise in your conversation so that you will not have anything to regret or explain later.
All of us often face disappointments, hardships and difficulties; therefore, we need brothers and sisters in Christ to pray with us about these matters. When we ask for those prayer requests and we share the negatives, let us do it in such a way that we still move the positives forward.
For example, we could say:
"You know, we've bumped into some of these things and we don't really know where to go next or how to deal with these situations. Can you advise and pray with us?"
When it is finally time to make a decision, make those decisions as wisely as the Lord will permit you to make them.
Remember that the tongue is "an unruly evil" and "it is set on fire of hell.” When our mind burns, generally, our tongue does as well.
When talking with your co-workers, be careful and cautious. You might say some things that, later on, you will wish you had kept to yourself. In today's society, these things are even worse because we put a lot in writing, in e-mails, or on facebook. Once the words are out, there is no way to fully recover them. So, when these issues are burning in your heart, be really careful who you share them with and make sure it is a conversation that is pleasing to the Lord.
I have made it a habit from the early days of my ministry to run with older guys. In large, I've always looked to men older than myself, who have experienced the things that I need help with right now. This isn't the law of the Medes and the Persians, but I would encourage it. I rarely ever sought advice from anyone my age or younger. Probably the exception to that would be John because we've worked together for twenty years now which has allowed us to develop a very close relationship. I talk a lot of things over with trusted friends, knowing these things will never be mentioned with anyone else. They stay with us. We have these conversations with the understanding that it doesn't go anywhere else, saving us a lot of headaches.
Any pastor can justify any thing that he does if he is willing to tell every thing that he knows, but in order to tell every thing he knows, he is bound to hurt other people. I have never been willing to hurt people. I would rather someone think bad of me than for me to say something that would do harm to someone else. I think one of the most difficult things to accept in ministry is that we have to “eat up” a lot of stuff. A fellow I pastored one time said to me : "don't you understand people use you?” and I replied: "yes, I do understand that. I don't feel good about it, but I know that they do.” The last thing that we should desire is retaliation or simply trying to justify ourselves to people who need no justification.
Dr. Sightler would often say "when my faith needs vindicating, God's able to do it." I think that we make a mistake when we attempt to do the vindicating ourselves.
So, Keep things close to your chest, and when you have throughly thought them through, if you still feel like you need help with something, then seek wise council.
Settle on the Will of God
Once you make that decision, then boldly go for it. Don't be tenuous about the Lord’s will- If you know it, you go do it; if you do not know it, tarry till you do know it. Only then can you go and put your whole heart into it. When men call you in question about decisions, your answer will be simple: "I sought the Lord and I know the mind of God in this matter."
Make Personal Worship the Priority
Direction Change in Ministry
Starting a Church
Expectations should be high if we ever expect to do anything for the Lord; however, not meeting those expectations should not destroy us or dishearten us. We can readjust. I would rather shoot for a mark and not hit it than not to have a mark at all, because generally speaking, you will always hit it, which is nothing. As missionaries, we started in our living room and I preached to my family the first Sunday. After that, we started aggressively going after people the very next day, and we kept on doing that. Sometimes, the location of the church meetings will be good for you. If you can choose a good location where there is a lot of traffic and people can see you, it will be a lot easier to give them directions.
I think a place that is clean and well taken care of, in any society, would be admired. If it is not something that people admire and want, it is at least setting a standard that says to others "shoot for this." This is God's work and God's work should always be done to our best. Sometimes, the only thing you can provide is a thatch roof. That thatch roof building ought to be well taken care of, kept and clean. It represents the Lord and the Lord's work. When people invited do come to a well kept place, it speaks well of the faith that you are propagating. I think this is important.
I know a church planter who started a couple of churches. He had to rent store fronts to start in. Any one of them that you went into was clean and neat. The furniture was in order, books were in place, and the environment just said "this didn't just happen, someone planned for this to happen."
I know there are those who would say, "well in the country I'm in, it is just not important to them." Well, make it important to them. Teach them that it is important, that this is the Lord's work and that it should stand out. Why remove a good standard among people who have been satisfied with a standard they have always had. I would say that this is true in personal hygiene, in the clothes and shoes we wear, in fixing your hair, in shaving, and in every thing else. You should not say "hey, look how I'm trying to be like you", but rather, you should set a standard saying "you can do better, you can do more". This is even more true when we are talking about a building that represents the Lord. By no means should a standard be lowered in what we do for the Lord.
Learn from those who have gone before you- not only in what to do, but also in what not to do. Ask men "what did you try that did not work? And what have you tried that did work?" Some of those things you will use and some you will not, but gathering all the information you can is not going to be harmful. Don’t do this only in your country, but check with guys in countries around you where, perhaps, there has been more activity. Ask them what has worked and what you should be cautious about.
Be careful with women. Visit with you wife if at all possible. Have her present with you. Have a space around you that is reserved just for her. Do not let other women encroach into that area. It might seem foolish today, but five or ten years from now, it will not be. Be cautious, because well seasoned men have fallen who were not novices. No family equals no ministry.
Do not chasten the whole congregation for something that is only the fault of one. I have seen so many pastors destroy themselves, because they use their pulpits as a place to scave people. That is not what it is for. God did not say scave my sheep, but He said feed my sheep. This last council might not help you build a church, but it will help you not to tear it down.
I would not shut my people out from my home, I never did, but neither was it a thoroughfare just to be gone through. Even in my home, only public places were public places. It was not that I felt myself any better than anyone else, because I also thought that way about people who are my closest friends. Home, for me, was a refuge. I needed a place to withdraw to, to regain my sense and stability, and reassure my family. This would allow me to go out and do battle again. I loved having Grenadiens in my home and I loved being in their homes. I would sit down and eat with them like I was family, but there is a limit to that.
There needs to be private and personal time. There needs to be a time when your wife can say anything she wants to say, which will stay in the privacy of your home. She needs to be able to express herself in an environment where it will go no further and that is how the frustrations can be dealt with. There are times when I just need to vent and I have friends that allow me the opportunity to do just that, knowing it will go no where else. You will have to work with someone a very long time before you have that, and chances are, your wife is going to be the one that will absorb all of that venting until then, and perhaps, even after that. There are things that we share that I trust both of us go to our graves with. We all get frustrated, troubled, bothered, and wish things were different. At times, you and your wife just need to say those things with an understanding you can say these things, but never express them to anyone else. This is as far as it goes! It is easy to get frustrated with others. When it happens, try to not make it public. If it does get public, then you need to pull that person aside and deal with them. If you do not have the manhood to do that, then just “eat it up” and go on.
Dealing with Discouragement
When there is a correction to be made in the mission and I'm writing either a pastor or a missionary, I will always send that correction letter by e-mail to pastor Windgard and ask him to read it and advise me. There are letters that I have rewritten as many as six times before we were both in agreement. I can remember one time he wrote me back and said "I'm still missing something that I know is in the brother Whetstone that I know.” Six times! Finally, we were both satisfied with the letter and I sent it. Time always bares out to me that it was the wise thing to do- it was the right thing to do. Sometimes, if I ever get an e-mail, a call, or something from someone that sets me on fire, I will sit down and write an e-mail, but I will never send it. I will write what I have to say and then, I'll sit on it for a few days and I will come back and either rewrite the letter or delete it. Those are not the times that we need to face problems, because we will almost always, invariably do it in the flesh.
I trust that the content of this interview was a help to you as it is to us.
Looking unto Jesus,