Different Man, Same God
I had been thinking about what I was going to write for my first newsletter as the pastor here at Spencerport Wesleyan Church, but I was not quite sure what message of the article should be all about. I could write something profound about society today or the state of the church, but you have heard most of that before and I really hate beating a dead horse, at least while I am still the new guy. As a result, I felt that I was being led to write about the pastoral transition that this church has endured.
I certainly understand that losing someone as special as Pastor Les and Laura can be difficult, especially so considering the fact that they have been here for 30 years. They will be missed as they pursue new things in this next phase of their lives. As the pastor coming after somebody like that, I have begun to realize how big the shoes are that have been left for me to fill. The truth is that I could never fill Pastor Les’ shoes, neither will I try to do so. He and I are two different people who are at very different points in our ministries, which means that there will be a noticeable change from how things were done during his tenure here and how they will be done in mine. I want to be careful to point out, however, that just because things will necessarily change to a certain extent, it does not mean that my methods are any better or worse, they are just different.
I have often likened pastoral transitions to the biblical leadership change from Moses to Joshua. Moses had been with the people of Israel for more than 40 years. He wandered with them through the desert. He was the vessel through which God spoke to them and gave them the law, and it was under his leadership and God’s guidance that the nation arrived at the banks of the Jordan River and prepared themselves to enter the Promised Land. The people had seen God do amazing things through Moses in their time in Egypt and in their time in the Sinai desert, but once they reached the border of Palestine it was time for someone new to take lead them as they took the next step.
God had chosen Joshua to succeed Moses and to lead the people of Israel on the conquest of the Promised Land promised him that the Lord’s presence would be with him just as it was with Moses. It was through the time of Joshua’s leadership that many new victories were won that helped the nation to take possession of the land. The same God who humbled the “god-king” of Egypt conquered the various peoples and kingdoms of Canaan.
While Moses and Joshua both have great name recognition in the annals of biblical history, the common element between the tenures of each leader was God. Joshua served the same God that Moses did, and God did great things through both of them, Joshua was just a different leader called for a different time in Israel’s history and development.
The same is true of Pastor Les and myself. I do not claim that either one of us is better than the other, nor do I believe that I will be able to do well all of the same things that he did. I do believe, however, that we both serve the same God, and that while Pastor Les was here in the time and purpose for which he was needed, I believe that God has brought us together for a new time and purpose. I could never thank Pastor Les enough for what he has done for SWC. All of the great things that this church has become are a result of the Holy Spirit’s ministry through him. You have been truly blessed to have such a great leader be with you for so long, and I am consider myself fortunate to follow him and to learn from the amazing things that God has done and is doing. I do want to build upon those things in my time here, committing myself and this church to our continued growth in the Lord our God.
I know that I am newer at this job and that this church brings with it different gifts and challenges for me, which is why I will rely so heavily upon all of you. I will appreciate your grace toward me in my time here. I will make mistakes and I will do things with which you do not all agree, but those things will give us a chance to grow together as we help each other live up to his or her potential in the ministry.
Even though I am the pastor of this church, I am not the only minister. Every one of us is partners in ministry here. We need to work together, and as one body submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit. If we do these things, then there is no limit to what God can do through Spencerport Wesleyan Church.