Exactly forty-three years ago, at a small Baptist church in Daisy, Tennessee, I preached my first official gospel message. I always mark the third Sunday in February as that anniversary, but the exact date was February 19, 1978. It was the day that I also officially quit the ministry. One of many times I quit. That message had to be the absolutely most God-awful message anyone has ever tried to preach in the history of preaching. But thankfully, God refused to accept my resignation. Sadly, that was not the last of bad messages I would preach either.
After about two years of wrestling with the Lord on whether or not I was really called to preach, I finally relented and said yes to the preaching ministry. Even though I have stumbled and fell many times along the way, He has always graciously picked me up, dusted me off and sent me forward again. Bad homiletics and all.
I was sitting at lunch with a pastor recently after ministering in his church and as we were fellowshipping, he said, “Bro. David, you are a man who has been greatly misunderstood in your life…” These words were like a healing balm in my heart. My passion for Jesus, for the moving of the Spirit and for handling the Word of God with integrity have always been misunderstood. I have also been misunderstood because I know in the depths of my being that not one single church or ministry organization constitutes the complete total of the Kingdom of God on the earth. If it is, we are in big trouble. I still believe that somehow Jesus’ prayer in John 17 will be completely fulfilled before He comes. Not in theory, but in transformational reality!
There was a time in my early days of ministry I thought I knew it all. After faceplanting more times than I want to count, I realized that’s not a mindset that comes from God. It brought me to a season in which I realized I DIDN’T know it all. While for some that would seem like a humiliating experience, in reality, it was very liberating. It came when I was willing to humble myself before the Father and admit, “Lord, I don’t know it all.”
Now after forty-three years of preaching for Jesus I can truly say, I know I will never know it all. Pam and I have seen many changes during our time in the ministry. At times I feel like the world is spinning faster than I can keep up because I seem to be moving in slow motion. Styles have changed. Songs have changed. Methods have changed. I hope I have learned a few things that will make my life and others lives better. In fact, the many things I have learned the hard way brought a purposing in my heart to try to help the coming generation to be able to stand on my shoulders and go higher in God than I will ever go. If I am a true spiritual father, I must never be jealous or ashamed of people I have mentored or been a spiritual father to doing more for the Kingdom than I will do.
Even though styles and songs and methods and assignments have changed and will continue to change with the passing of time, the message has never changed. Jesus Christ is still the same. Yesterday. Today. Forever.
And I thank our God in heaven for trusting me with the assignment He gave me for His Kingdom’s sake.