Final Thoughts from Grand Rapids

I’ll be heading to the airport in a few minutes, the Gerald R. Ford Airport,to begin my trek home.

I have many more things to share with you from my time here, but this list will not include a summary of the presentations or even sections of the 10 or so pages of notes I took.  Other blogs have taken care of that angle.

The thing my time here has done, more than anything else, is re-energize and re-new my in my gratitude to God for giving me this awesome calling.

I get to be a “God-Conductor” to borrow a term from Shane Hipps.

For just over 20 years now, I’ve been a preacher.  Sure, I was in ministry, even employed ministry before that, but 20 years ago last month, I received my first appointment to pastor, and, thus, my first responsibility to preach.

Looking forward, I feared the preaching part of this pastor gig more than any other aspect.  I had tried, and to borrow the phrase from that mysterious hand in Daniel, “been found wanting.”

The reason I feared the preaching part is that I had tried it.  I had taken two preaching classes at seminary, and, while I learned a lot, still felt very, very NOT up to the task.

Then, as I accepted my first pastoral appointment, and assumed my first pulpit, I was gently yet powerfully reminded of Who it was that had called me to this.

Unlike anytime I had ever preached before, I had a message AND a passion to share it.  Unlike anytime I had ever preached before, I could preach!

(This is NOT the post to which I hope you’ll respond with something like ,”oh, Steve, you’ve always been good,” or some other sweet support comment. I know better, I was there! Please let me finish)

I could not preach until I opened myself to the truth that it had indeed been God who had called me to do so.  Then, and from then on, I have, in my own estimation, been given an awesome and incredible ability to convey the truth, promise, hope, peace, and passion of the Gospel to other.  This gift is NOT awesome or incredible because I’m so good at it, but because it connects me, every time I preach, with the power of God.  This gift, this ability is from God to me.

This conference has helpe dme get that back in perspective.  After 20 years of loving something this much, I had lost a little touch with the part of the story that included God’s having gifted me.  It has become easier over the years to take more credit than I deserve for my preaching.

This isn’t one of those slobbery “Oh, it isn’t me, it’s God” chants, either.  I know I am a part of this.  I know the way I’m wired, the way I see things, the way I can put words into motion is me.

But it is the dynamic connection, interaction, and teamwork between God and me that really makes it go, and makes it good.

The one line from the conference I’m give you is preachers sometimes “have to say something” and sometimes “have something to say.”

I am definitely in touch, in a renewed way, with all I have to say right now.

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