For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. (Psalm 84:10)
God called me into the ministry soon after my 18th birthday. I attended several Bible schools, and eventually became one of the pastoral staff ministers at a large church. Image was a big deal to me. I always dressed sharply, and I wanted to look like a professional. Ministry was a big deal to me. I had to be in ministry, because that’s who I am. How wrong I was.
In 1986 or so God begin to speak to me deep inside and I began to know that I would go through a grueling test that would deal with the deep root of pride in me. It happened a few years later. After I planted a church in a small city in South Carolina, I turned it over to another Pastor and began to travel and minister. I knew God was up to something in me.
While building the traveling ministry, I felt impressed of the Lord to supplement my income during the week with some type of job and then preach on the weekends. The Holy Spirit led me to start a small painting company which prospered. And there God dealt with the me in me, that is, the self-will and pride.
Instead of looking polished and professional, most days I looked disheveled and spotted with paint! My image of me was crushed. I was no longer a minister. I was a painter. That knocked the wind out of my sails! At one point, ministry opportunities grew sparse while my business increased significantly. I felt that I was a failure, and that God was finished with me. It was in this moment of my life that the above scripture was emphasized to me.
One particularly hot summer day, I was high on a ladder grinding decades old paint off of a house. I began to cry as I thought about where I was in contrast to the ministry experiences I had in my past. It was a real crisis moment for me, and I knew that the Lord was requiring an attitude change in me. With sweaty skin covered with flecks of old paint in the blazing sun high atop a ladder I cried out to God. Lord, just to know you is more important than ministry or image or anything else in life! If this is your plan for me, so be it! Just to know you is more important than anything I personally want .And then the verse from Psalm 84 came to me.
I resigned myself that day to follow God wherever He took me, ministry or not. I don’t need an image. I don’t need to be in ministry. I need a real close relationship and fellowship with Jesus. That’s what really produces ministry anyway! The Lord did open ministry back up to me shortly after this experience, but everything was different. I didn’t need to be in ministry anymore. I needed my fellowship with Jesus. Who needs image and prestige when He who is the sum total of everything is inside of you? Life and ministry is all about knowing Him intimately.
Don’t fight the hard places in life, you may find the voice of God speaking into your need through them. I’m still willing just to be a doorkeeper if that’s where His presence and blessing is. Pursue Him, not image. Seek to know Him.