One Phrase that Changed My Outlook On Life and Ministry

When I was a young mother raising two energetic little boys, I remember often being tired and overwhelmed.  It was on those days I would think things like, “I’ll be glad when the boys are big enough to make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.”  On those tiring days I found myself wishing they were older and able to do more for themselves.

Then one day I heard Dr. James Dobson, Host of Focus on the Family Radio Program, say something that forever changed my outlook.  He was talking about young parents and how they can get so frustrated with the daily task of raising children that they forget to enjoy the simple things.  He said something like this, “Don’t wish away any stage of your child’s life.  They’re only in your care for a short time.  Enjoy it all.”

I realized that I was in such a hurry for my children to grow up (or at least tie their own shoes) that I was missing the joy of where they were at in their current stage of development.  By wishing I could hurry along the process, I was missing some of the sweetest daily pleasures.  I was taking for granted the awesome privilege of being the one that got to teach them how to tie their shoes, pick up their toys and put down the toilet seat.  It was then that I decided to enjoy every stage of my boys’ early years (no matter how tired I was).

Years later, as a new ministry began to take shape, I remember feeling the same way about the early days of the ministry that I did about the early days of child-raising.  (which, by the way, I still consider to be the greatest and most rewarding ministry God’s ever given me – my family)  I wanted to hurry along the process.  I wanted to be further down the road and see a more fully developed ministry.  I wanted to know exactly what God wanted me to do, how He was going to bring it all about and see much fruit from my ministry.

Then one day I heard Dr. Dobson’s words ringing in my heart – only in a different context.  I heard, “Don’t wish away any stage of your ministry.”  Once again, I was getting in a hurry.

Our life, our ministry, is a long beautiful journey that has many stages.  Stages of learning.  Stages of growing.  Stages of waiting.  Stages of harvesting.  Stages of mentoring someone else who is on the same path as we are  There is so much to learn and enjoy in every stage of life and ministry.

In the Bible, we see that Abraham’s journey was full of stages.  Genesis 12:9 says, “Then Abraham continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev.” (NLT)  If you read Abraham’s story, you’ll see that Abraham had a tremendous journey to make.  God sent him out on a journey and didn’t tell him where he was going.  He just told him (in so many words) that it was going to be awesome!

Abraham’s journey was full of stages.  Full of learning.  Full of waiting.  He had his share of failures as well as his share of successes.  To be sure, they all came in stages.  Each one of those stages shaped Abraham into the man God wanted him to be and helped him to do what God had called him to do.

You can wish away the stage of life or ministry you’re in right now.  Or you can decide to make the most of where you’re at recognizing that there’s something you are learning today that’s going to shape you into the person God wants you to be tomorrow.  Everything happens for a reason and God has a purpose for every day of your life.

Just imagine what will happen in the next stage of life because you were faithful and dedicated in this stage of life?  One stage builds upon another.  Each stage of your life is leading you somewhere.  Each stage of your life is an opportunity to gain wisdom and knowledge.  Your life is a culmination of stages.  Beautiful stages designed and planned by God.  To wish away even one of them is to miss something amazing that God wants to do in your life.  My advice…

Stay committed.  Be patient.  And enjoy the journey.

Only God knows how long this stage will last.  And only God knows when it’s time to move on to the next one.  God has good things for you.  And you don’t want to miss one thing God has for you today because you are wishing it away for tomorrow.

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