Good day. Usually I record in my office on a nice little USB microphone right next to the computer, but today in preparation for a bit of a road trip where I might not have access to my nice little setup, I’m doing a podcast through my phone. I actually did a test a few minutes ago using the phone jack and the mic I would use if I was talking on the phone, and it really didn’t sound that great, so I’m doing this directly to the phone mic, which theoretically should be better. Anyway that’s the background if the audio is worse than usual, you’ll know why.
I had the privilege just in the last few weeks to attend two very significant services, at least significant for those churches and the individuals who were the focal point because one was an ordination service, a recognition of someone’s call to ministry. And our in our circles, that’s what the ordination is and they’ve proven themselves and it’s a public recognition of that. And then I was also at an installation service, an induction service for the fella who was picking up after me in a transitional role I just completed.
Both of those gatherings are just, they’re celebrations, because there’s so much hope, there’s so much promise, there’s so much anticipation of good things, if not great things. And if not great things, at least an anticipation of faithful service to the Lord, to his people and the whole celebration really represents that.
But I know, and I’m sure you know from personal history and observation that that hope and that promise often goes unrealized. That not everyone continues on the same path that they began.
I think of the people I graduated from Bible College with those who I knew who were just a year or two ahead of me and those I was with and those a year or two behind me, the circles I move in. And while there are several I can still find who are engaged in ministry, there’s not as many as you would have thought at that point in time, because everyone it seems was so passionate about what they were going to do when they got out into the church and into the ministry world.
And over time, some walked away from the ministry, and that wasn’t always a bad thing, walked away from vocational ministry. Many are still actually in ministry. They’re in business. They’re in other organizations serving faithfully and following Jesus within that calling. Others walked away from the church completely. Some walked away from their families. Some walk away from the Lord.
And looking back to that moment of celebration, of graduation or in some cases an ordination or an installation, you would not have expected that. Because it’s so far removed from that moment in time.
And so the question I’m reflecting on in these days that I want to pass on to you is, it’s a question I ask myself often, it’s “What’s my trajectory?” What’s my trajectory?
When I’m dealing with individuals or even evaluating myself, I’m not as concerned with where is this person at right now; I’m concerned with what’s the trajectory. If we take the direction they’re travelling in life, in their relationships, in their walk with the Lord, in the ministry and extrapolate it out for another year or five or 10 or a lifetime, where are they going to end up?
And that’s the question to ask ourselves. If we extrapolate our current trajectory, where will we end up. Are we heading in the right direction? Are we are growing in our passion for the Lord and his people? And the the fruit of the Spirit, the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithful, self-control, is that continuing to blossom and become more and more prominent in us, because that’s really a picture of the character of Christ.
What’s the trajectory?
And sometimes I need to remind myself when I’m not happy with what I see in terms of my trajectory in a given day or week or month, a reminder of the words in Revelation where the church is told to “go back and do the things you did at first.” You need to recover your first love, go back and do the things you did at first.
And that’s actually a very practical action to think of the things we were doing, think of things I was doing at those moments when I was sold out passionate. What was I actually doing, right down to what kind of music was I listening to and what were my habits and disciplines and what kind of people was I in relationship with? And I’ve often noted that when my trajectory is not right, some of those things I did at first are no longer being done.
And so from time to time, and maybe that’s where you find yourself today, you need to do a bit of a reset. You need to adjust your trajectory and and make some adjustments and revisit that hope and that promise that you had when you started ministry, maybe when you graduated or were ordained or started a very specific ministry.
And it’s a good time just to remember that the basic call is to follow Jesus, to be a disciple and to call others with us, to make disciples.
The very first passage of Scripture I memorized on my own free will that wasn’t part of a contest or a class or or a camp or something like that- I was in my teen years- was Mark chapter 8:34-38. I’d been reading through the New Testament and came across that passage and it just seemed so all encompassing, so universally applicable. I thought I better pay attention to this because in that passage Jesus said if anyone would come after me, anyone, so it applied to me because I wanted to come after him. If anyone would come after me, Jesus said, they need to deny themself and take up the cross and follow me.
And then he goes on to unpack the logic of it, that it makes no sense to gain the whole world and forfeit your soul and that we are not to be ashamed of him. And so that for me is a great reset verse when I hear that phrase from Revelation about going back and doing the things I did at first, I think right away also of Mark chapter eight and the call to take up my cross. In another passage it says take up the cross daily to follow Jesus.
So how’s your trajectory? Do you need to make a course correction. I encourage you to revisit that moment when you at your most passionate and go back and do the things you were doing then. And keep following and calling others with you.