by Rick Yost, Superintendent, Fredericksburg Christian School
Week 1 - Introduction
I sometimes find clichés underused. We don’t like to use them because, well, everybody uses them and when we do use them we don’t sound very “original”, right? Kind of like the Yogi Berra quote that “Nobody goes there anymore because it’s too crowded”. But when a cliché is really good and stands the test of time, as most clichés have done, it must be worth repeating, and it must be meaningful enough to have stuck around. So, at the risk of alienating folks who abhor a cliché, I’m about to use one that I think is particularly valuable to those of us who labor in the vineyard of Christian education. Ready? Here it is. “He doesn’t call the equipped………He equips the called”.
So…….still with me? Good.
That statement is so appropriate for Christian School laborers, and particularly those who labor around children all day, every day, for a couple of reasons. First, that statement assumes a fundamentally possessed humility that I see in every one of you. You come to this herculean task of ministering to the most precious of His creation knowing that you not only don’t have all the tools you need for it…………you don’t even have the tool box. Whatever you have at your disposal to carry out the work in this Warriors-only calling has come not from your own arsenal, but from His complete download of abilities into your own personal wealth of resources. You are given JUST EXACTLY what you need to execute the clear, unmistakable calling from the God of all creation. No more, and no less than what is needed. You have been GIVEN exactly what you need to obediently respond to His call: a passion for students and a gift for pedagogy; a broad view of the economy of His Kingdom and strong Holy Spirit radar; a motivating sense of purpose and an exceptional intellect; a hunger for His Word to nourish you, and a fountain of wisdom for ultimate ministry effectiveness. Toolbox and tools. Given to you by your Father.
The second thing that is glaringly true about that cliché is that it reflects a total and life-or-death reliance on HIM………..with His calling, equipping, and sustaining come true life for what you do every day…….without them, your ministry as a Christian School educator simply ceases to exist. It dies. End of cliché; end of story. The source of any effectiveness we have comes from His calling and equipping and they constitute the life-giving root that feeds the tree and its miraculous fruit: those evidences of our ministry, those precious children who are gaining the Kingdom. HE provides the gifting; HE provides the calling; HE provides the equipping; HE provides the surroundings; and HE provides the souls in those desks every day.
Which leads me to the title of this series. Our model for the personal ministry that EACH of us has here in our school (serving in or out of a classroom), helping our students gain ALL the riches of the Kingdom, is the fundamental progression of Equip – Deplete – Restore – Repeat*. Of notable applicability, this model is illustrated so well in the life of one whose ministry effectiveness is widely known: our Brother, the Apostle Paul. After his dramatic calling, he was equipped through a changed heart (Acts 9:15-22), the tutelage of others (Acts 9:23-31), the voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:7), and direct visions from the Lord (Acts 16:9-10). The Depletion came through grueling travel (Acts 27:1-44), miracles performed at his hand (Acts 16:18; 19:11), beatings (Acts 14:19), imprisonment (Acts 28:16-31), and never sleeping in his own bed. His times of Restoration came from his direct encouragement through God’s words to him by angels and by the Holy Spirit (Acts 27:21-24, his fellowship with the brethren (Acts 15:30-35), and quite interestingly his deep ties to the church at Antioch, where believers were first called Christians, and to which he would consistently return after his long missionary journeys (Acts 14:21-22). Then, the cycle would repeat.
We are ministering today with no less of an important calling than Paul had. I TRULY mean that! And so we need to experience the same progressions in ministry if we are to remain effective and grow MORE effective. We are desperate for His equipping, which we use to deplete ourselves in ministry (If any of you don’t feel depleted at regular intervals, please raise your hand. See? Nobody!). Then, there absolutely must be restoration of energy, spirit, wisdom, and motivation……..all coming through His Word, His Spirit, and His people. Then, of course, we repeat the progression. We may see it over the course of a year, or we may experience it quite dramatically in a 24-hour period. He determines that.
As we journey through this study together this year, fellow Warriors, I want us to particularly drink in the benefit of one specific element of the progression: Restore. In our geographic area, most of us spend a pretty fair amount of time driving. But no matter how frequently or how far you drive, you would never drive another car length if you did not ALWAYS return to one place: the gas station. Picture, if you will, the scope of your travel, say, for the last year. You drove for a week to who-knows-where, and ended up right at that gas pump at the station or convenience store that you frequent the most. Then, you drove for a couple of weeks on that tank to who-knows-where, but you ended up right back at that pump, didn’t you? Every week goes by about the same. Pump. Drive. Pump again. You could have said, “I just don’t feel like going to the gas station anymore.” Well, good luck with that. When you’re stranded on the side of a busy highway you’ll be calling your grouchy spouse or friend for a ride home, and then you’ll have to hear about the consequences of your – I’ll be nice – lack of judgment for a year or more. Restoring the fuel is not optional, is it? I want us to picture our ministry effectiveness not in terms of the driving, but in terms of the refueling……………many hours spent at the pump, punctuated by periods of driving. Here’s why.
In the context of ministry at our school - an area of our lives that is WAY more important than driving a car - we will be stuck, frustrated, and disqualified if we do not consistently and frequently take the time to refill our tank…………to RESTORE by snuggling up to our Father in prayer every day; by hearing the Spirit-illuminating wisdom and encouragement that He prepares for us each morning in His Word; and by feeding our spirits for battle by taking advantage of the courage-producing, smile-inducing life that comes from sweet fellowship with our fellow warriors and other dear saints (that’s what Antioch was for Brother Paul).
We’ll walk this devotional journey as we walk every day: together. And it will be one of the greatest privileges of my life to walk with each of you. All of our Equipping, Depleting, and Restoration will take place in the context of our Kingdom family. Thank you, fellow Warriors, for being there for me and Sherry………..and mostly, for each other.
*Each of you has already been clearly called, so I did not add that 5th element to this progression. While you may be called to specific tasks this year, those are assumed to be imbedded in your experience as part of daily Equipping.