Reverend Patrick Evans, Senior Pastor
When I Grow Up
On Tuesday Deb and I drove to Wiley College in Marshall to hear the Bishop preach in chapel. I felt that since he was visiting within an hour drive, I should attend. For the journey, I was blessed with a wonderful worship
experience. The choir was exceptional and the Bishop had a good, practical sermon. I confess that there are times I go to hear other preachers and look for good material to steal for my own sermons. I am constantly searching for quality material and the Bishop didn't disappoint. In his message, he stated that he is still growing into the likeness of Christ.
He shared stories of personal confession about his marriage when he was younger. He told stories about
teaching his children the fruits of the spirit and how, in recent years his children reminded him when he was not living by those fruits. He told about his 99-year-old father in law, who is still growing up as well. He then asked us: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" He stated it did not matter our age, we are all still in the process of growing up. Even if we are 99 years old!
Recently, several people have complimented that my sermons have been getting better. Enough have said it that I can't help but wonder what am I doing differently. Several possibilities came to mind. After a couple of years together, the congregation knows me better and I know you better as well. Knowing each other helps in the communication process. As another possibility, I wondered if the sermon content is better. It has always been my goal to continue to improve. When people ask me what my best sermon was, I often joke, "The next one!" but truthfully that is my goal. I hope that each sermon is better than the last one. There will always be room for growth and improvement.
I wasn't sure what may have changed in my preaching, but then I heard the Bishop ask, "What do you want to be when you grow up? The answer is more Christlike." Yes! That definitely leaves a lot of room for growth. I sometimes wonder if I have gone as far as I can at making a better Patrick, but am reminded that God can do so much more. There is a lot of room for growth between who I think I can be, and who Christ declares I can be in Him. Where I may be willing to settle because it's frankly just too hard, Christ can do so much more. Where I think I may be out of room for improvement, Jesus is just getting started.
Sometimes a wrong type of thinking can creep in: that I am spiritually mature and I am all grown up. After all, I am older, I have held a job, I pay my bills, I have a seminary degree, I have been preaching a while... There is evidence of a person all grown up. But truthfully I realize there is so much more room for maturity in Christ. In comparison to the world, I may be mature, but in comparison to Christ, I am missing the mark.
This realization has turned this whole thing on its head for me. So now when I hear, "We have seen growth in
you" I think good! I hope so! For that is the victory we all have in Christ! We all have the opportunity to grow and to become more than we are able to by ourselves. Christ calls us to have the fruits of His Spirit.
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do, I have those all the time? No. But by the grace of God, I hope to have them more often today and tomorrow than I had them yesterday. That is growth!
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Patrick Evans Pastor