Getting to know Jim Failor, part 11
The Christmas season is behind us and a new year has begun. This is the time when we reflect on the past and plan for the future. As I ponder 2012 with its blessings and challenges, I am reminded of the growth that God has brought about in me. Of course, He is growing all of us who abide in Him. ("Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." Colossians 2:6-7) 2012 was my first full calendar year as a member of SOMA's Pastor-Elder (P-E) team and it is both inspiring and humbling to recall what the Lord has done with our church and what He has been doing to mold me (and I need a LOT of molding).
Of course, when I was considering joining the P-E team, Paul, Rich, and I spent a lot of time discussing the "calling", the responsibilities, and the standards for leadership. This was sobering and quite honestly, inspired mostly fear on my part. In 2012 the P-E team worked our way through a book titled The Shepherd Leader by Timothy Witmer. The size and the importance of the calling became even more tangible. It became painfully obvious that I couldn't do this job on my own. But of course God can. So I'm trying to let Him take control. ("I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 and "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.'" Matthew 17:20) Some of the responsibilities discussed in The Shepherd Leader include knowing, feeding, leading, and protecting the members of the church. As Charlie Brown might say, "Uuuuugh!". This is a tall order. Your prayers are appreciated.
The P-Es meet formally twice a month. We pray for the church and specific prayer requests that church members bring to us. We attend to administrative issues such as the budget, facilities utilization, and upcoming activities in the church. We have prayed over church members in their homes, led Growth Groups, and participated in all of the activities of the church in which many of us took part. I joined several men for the "Fight Club". There we worked our way through the book Every Man's Battle by Arterburn, Stoeker and Yorkey. It was an excellent book and of great value to each one of us. The book is full of practical tools for winning the war on sexual temptation. Duane and Steve lead two different "Fight Club" groups. Thanks Duane and Steve for your leadership! Beth and I had the honor of hosting one of the Growth Groups that studied the book of James. James is wonderful in its straight-forward guidance to living a life that honors Christ. This study paralleled Pastor Paul's sermons on the same book. May we always remember that "We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone." (Martin Luther)
There are no preferred parking spaces for those who serve in the church. But there are many spiritual blessings. Thank you for letting us share in your lives. It has been an honor and a privilege.
So, it seems that the Lord has called me to serve as a P-E at this time in my life. 1 Corinthians 12 describes the church as a body where each member serves a unique and vital function. As Pastor-Elders there are times when we act as the "head" of the body, under the ultimate headship of Christ. But I usually think of this responsibility more as a roving part - sometimes as an eye looking for needs in the church body, other times as a hand that comes to the aid of a church member. It has been a wonderful blessing. 2012 was an amazing year because of each one of you. Thank you Lord for allowing me to serve in your church.
Are you serving in the church? Is there something you would like to do, but have not been asked? Have you asked for God's guidance and direction in how you might serve? Sometimes people have busy lives and it may not be possible to take on more responsibilities. I would encourage you to seek God's will as you trust Him with your time and talents. When you feel the Holy Spirit's guidance, step out in faith. As we learn from Joshua 1:9, ". . . Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”