Certainly, this post was at least partly prompted by the incredible number of sad, tragic, and horrific events in my denomination.
For sure, the brutal reality of the calendar and my impending 63rd birthday caused me to pause and write this public missive.
But more, far more, has been the conviction of God’s Spirit in my life. While I have been prone to judge the fallen and the offenders in the melodrama of my denomination, God has reminded me again how fallen I am, how sinful I am, and how I am unworthy to cast the first stone.
It is perhaps for accountability, and perhaps for confession, that I write about changes I must make.
- I must change and be more obedient in sharing the gospel. I exhort others to do so, but I am disobedient far too much myself.
- I must change and increase my time in the Word and in prayer. Too often, I let the tyranny of the urgent replace the priority of time with God. If I sound foolish, it is because I am, and because I have been.
- I must change how I seek my identity. My identity should be first in Christ. And my identity should also be as a family man. My greatest titles are “husband,” “Dad,” and “Rad Rad,” not “CEO” or “Dr. Rainer.” Too often I seek the accolades of others instead of pleasing Christ and serving my family.
- I must change the depth and breadth of how I love my local church. I must serve with greater joy, give with greater commitment, and worship with greater abandon.
- I must change my involvement in denominational politics. Indeed, I must flee from denominational politics. My involvement breaks my heart and hurts my soul.
- I must change from a posture of silence to one of courage when others are hurt, marginalized, and abused. My silence is too often a deafening endorsement of injustice and wrongdoing.
This list is neither complete nor exhaustive. God is still working on me. He knows I need a lot of work. I am not sure what paths I will take in the weeks and months ahead, but I know I need to be on His path and not my own. I am no less a sinner subject to failure and to fall than anyone else.
I must change.
With the few years I have left, I must change.
Let me be clearer and more biblical: I must ask God to change me. It is not by my strength nor by my might, but by the Spirit of the Lord that I can change.
And then, and only then, will I dare to whisper, “My life was not lived in vain.”
Posted on June 4, 2018
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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Thank you for your honesty and brokenness. We are all in need of the Savior. When we serve in ministry, it is so easy to see everyone elses’ problems and not do the work of regular confession and repentance in our own hearts. Thank you for your encouragement in ministry.
Yes, Mark. I have much to learn.
Thank you, Dr. Rainer, for your call to change. It’s a message for all of us, regardless of which “tribe” we belong to. True words. Biblical words. Spirit-led words. Thank you again
Thank you, Mark. Tribes sometimes unite. Tribes sometimes divide.
Your message resonates with my heart as well Thom. I join you in this effort.
My prayers for you, Shaun.
Thanks for the reminder, sometimes I get so wrapped up in the ministry to others I overlook my own inadequacies. These are kind but great words for us to keep ever before us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. God bless
Thanks so much, Jessie.
Dr. Rainer, the harmony of my personal journey with yours is God ordained. If only you could see my journal. You not only shared your heart, you have also given vulnerability an exalted status! What ever change God may bring forth in your life please know He is already using you to validate change in mine.
You are a true encourager, Gregg.
Thank you so much for your leadership and transparency!
Thanks for your kindness, Marshall.
Semper Reformandum – Always reforming. Praise God for the One who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless… ‘I need Thee every hour…’ (let’s revise that to every minute, every second…)
Well said, Keith.
Good word! May the Lord bring about the necessary change in all of us.
Yes. For all of us. And may it begin with me.
Thank you, Dr. Rainer. Your message is for many of us!
A timely word for ALL leaders in the church, no matter our denomination. Thank you!
Thank you as well, Jackie.
Yes, great wisdom for all of us! If Jesus is coming back for a bride “without spot or blemish or wrinkle” we had better be cooperating with God in getting us there!
A good word Dr. Rainer. me too!
Thank you, Chris.
Thanks Thom, although change is sometimes difficult, a need for change is eminent!
For certain for me, Simon
(A x B x C) > D = Change
A: dissatisfaction with the status quo (a function of management)
B: vision of a preferred future (a function of leadership)
C: knowledge of first steps toward change (a function of administration)
D: status quo/latency/the price one is willing to pay NOT to change (can be an insanely-high price)
Change: a self-sustaining new condition
Note: D always will be present (solving it to remain solved = becoming a zillionaire overnight!); if Change is needed, then it is the most important part of the Change Equation (if Change is not needed presently, wait one day–it will be needed then!); the “x’s” mean must have each part working together in order to experience Change by overcoming status quo/latency/the price one is willing to pay NOT to change; if what is experienced is not self-sustaining, then what is experienced was not change (it was a fad, a trend, a synonymous term for “not a change”)
Old and New Testaments both: “. . . he caused himself to walk with God . . .” Bite the bullet, take the steps, experience the change; repeat tomorrow :-))