The Time to Walk Away
1 Corinthinians 3: 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1!
These verses have never been more meaningful to me than since I retired. As a United Methodist Minister after we leave the church, whether by re-appointment or retirement, we are expected to walk away. Why? We leave churches and our friends so that the new pastor can begin that bonding process that would be hindered if we stayed.
Paul was experiencing what should happen when our ministry changes–he laid the foundation and others followed him, building upon that foundation. Some of Paul’s followers were upset because new believers were following Apollos and Cephas instead of remaining with Paul. But Paul understood the dynamics of ministry–the focus is never on the minister, but upon God. We are each just working in God’s field.
Today, a friend is in the hospital undergoing a heart procedure. I cannot be there because she is not only a friend, she is a former congregant. Her current pastor is with her which is the way it should be.
In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told there is a season for everything. My season for being a working preacher is over, and so I have to continue to walk way. But, I can still pray. I can pray for my friends and former congregants, and I can pray for the new pastor who has no doubt that she is where she is supposed to be.
Thank God for seasons, and for giving us the strength to walk away.
Father God, today is a new day, and part of a new season. May we pay attention to the seasons in our lives, and may we follow after you always, never trying to lead the way but being willing to walk away if needed. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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