A couple of weeks ago, Vickie and I celebrated our 34th anniversary of being in children’s ministry. We are days away from celebrating our 24th anniversary of being the children’s pastors at Trinity Church International in Lake Worth, Florida. Those two anniversaries, 34 years and 24 years, contain numbers that you don’t hear too often in children’s ministry. Many people use children’s ministry as a “stepping stone” to the “real” ministry. Others stay in one church for a year or two and then feel “led” to go to another church for a year or two and then feel “led” to … you know the pattern, don’t you. Sadly, longevity is almost an obsolete concept in this ministry.
Why do Vickie and I stay in this ministry? And, why do we stay at the same church? The simple answer is because the last word that I had from God is to be in children’s ministry and to serve here at Trinity. And, until I get further instruction, I will continue to do what I heard last from Him.
To be honest, there have been many times that it would have been easy to leave. There have been times that I have wanted to pack up and move to another location after all, surely God wasn’t behind me struggling and being miserable. There was one particular time that I was begging God to leave and He answered my plea with this answer, “Put up, shut up, and grow up.” That wasn’t the answer that I wanted to hear. I did obey God and shut my mouth and weathered out the storm. What was the result? The circumstances didn’t change, but God changed me. I matured. I became able to handle the circumstances that I was facing, overcome them, and grow spiritually so that I could take on bigger challenges. I learned that like the psalmist David, I have been able to take on bigger challenges like Goliath because I first conquered the lion and the bear.
What is the reward for longevity? In addition to the love that I get from the hundreds of children in our ministry, it’s a rare week that goes by that I don’t have one of my grown up “kids” come by to love on Pastor Billy. I’m talking about “kids” now in their 20’s and 30’s who were little bitty kids when we moved to Lake Worth, grew up in our ministry and are now married, have their own children in our ministry, and are passionately in love with Jesus. I love, love, love seeing the influence that I had and still have in their lives. What a great reward! Then, there are others that I’ve watched grow up in our ministry who are now themselves involved in full time children’s ministry. The picture shown in this blog showcases one of those kids. At the beginning of this past May, I had the opportunity to officiate the wedding service for a young lady who I affectionately call “my little Gracie” and her fiance Johnny York. Grace has been a part of our lives forever, even serving alongside us as a volunteer during her high school years. Now, Grace is not only a newlywed but also the new children’s pastor of a church in Pennsylvania. I’m so proud of my little Gracie.
Quit? Are you kidding? Move to another church or another type of ministry? Not until we get a new word from God and then we’ll argue about it. I think that I will keep on keeping on. It’s great to see some of the rewards of longevity down here on earth. I can’t wait to see what the whole picture shows when I get to heaven.