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I don’t know if I feel more like Moses or more like Joshua. In a month, I will leave my job at CPH and take a call to be the director at our church’s new early learning center. As someone currently in ministry and someone who will be a future leader in congregational ministry, I feel like I want to share advice to others in ministry from what I’ve learned over the years, but I also want to send encouragement to those in ministry, as we rest securely in God’s promise to be with us. So here are three things I’ve learned about being an early childhood director, before I’ve actually become one! (And of course, these apply to anyone in ministry.)
- God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Strategic plans. Daily goals. Weekly goals. Monthly, yearly, five-year, ten-year goals. We’ve got them. We dream big; we want what’s best for our students, their families, and our communities. But God has BIG things in store. He can see the big picture. And I mean the BIG picture. Ten years from now? He knows it, and He knows what’s best for you now. One hundred years from now? He knows it, and He knows what’s best for you right now. Eternally? He’s got that covered too! God gives us hope now and hope for the future.
In my own situation, we’ve prayed for blessings on our planning. God gave us a top-notch group of leaders on our committee . . . even more highly qualified than I had hoped for. We’ve prayed for guidance as we start to furnish our classrooms. I had hoped we could follow a conservative, fiscally responsible plan . . . but God blew me out of the water by bringing generous donors to us, providing even more than what I had ever anticipated. We can rest securely in God’s care, knowing that our heavenly Father loves us with a never-ending love, takes care of us with all-knowing wisdom, and provides for and protects us with an all-powerful ability. And no matter what today may bring, we know that our eternal future is secure; through Christ’s death and resurrection, we are assured that nothing will separate us from God’s love. Ever.
When Moses gave his final blessing to God’s people, he reminded them of how God had provided for them in the past and would continue to provide for them in the future—including their eternal future. “[The Lord] loved His people, all His holy ones were in His hand” (Deuteronomy 33:3). “There is none like God . . . the eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:26–27). In faith, may we trustingly insert our own names in this verse: “Happy are you, O ______! Who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph!” (Deuteronomy 33:29). As He knows is best, God will bless us and make us a blessing to others so that we will proclaim His salvation to the world.
- Satan doesn’t like it when God gets the glory. He doesn’t want us to tell everyone what He has done and proclaim His salvation to the world. So he will try to thwart our plans. You know it. You’ve seen it: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He knows your own personal weaknesses. He knows your congregation’s weaknesses. In my own situation, he was able to dredge up something we didn’t even know was a problem on the horizon, and now it’s a mountain of a problem. But God is a problem solver. He solved our biggest problem—sin—by sending His own Son to die for us. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31–32). God is a mountain mover (Matthew 17:20).
Walled cities. Giants. Rushing waters in the way. Sure, there will be obstacles in our path. Yeah, we’re on the lookout for them. We know things won’t go perfectly. We are reminded that trusting in our own strength, we can’t make it. We humbly and confidently rely on the One who’s been there for us in the past and who has secured our eternal future.
- Ministry isn’t for the faint of heart, but God is the one who supplies the strength when we are weak. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). When Joshua was commissioned by God, God reminded him that He will strengthen and preserve His children. The apostle Paul reminds us that in our weakness, God is strong; the glory belongs to Him (2 Corinthians 12:10).
God gave Joshua specific instructions regarding being strong and very courageous: be “careful to do according to all the law that Moses My servant commanded you . . . meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:7–8). So my final encouragement to you is to stay in the Word! Your strength is found not in yourself, but in our amazing, loving, incomprehensible God. Use Bible study and devotional products from CPH, and use Christ-centered, scriptural resources to guide your congregational ministry and to work through your congregational dynamics and find support.
I may not currently be directing any employees, but I do want to direct you to God’s Word. Our doors haven’t even opened yet to our students, but I do know that God is opening doors for us, and I know that God is at work in your ministry as well. And like the children of Israel, no matter who is leading your program, may the Lord be the one who ultimately and truly is directing our paths, reminding us of His providence in the past and His faithfulness in the future.
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