At the heart of ministry is the heart, a heart close to God.
After I finished seminary in the late 1950s, I organized a new church in Gulfport, Mississippi. From a church growth perspective, it was a huge success. With rapid growth, a new building, and suburban prosperity, the church was the Cinderella of our conference.
But increasingly I was miserable. I felt like an organization man, not a man of God. I wasn't taking my directions from the Lord. In the midst of a thriving church setting, I felt far from God. For a while I thought seriously about leaving the ministry.
In retrospect, I see I was running on my own power, relying on my own resources. But I didn't know how to do otherwise. There was no question about my commitment to Christ or my call to preach. It was a matter of power, spiritual power: the inner resources for living with a strength not my own. Seminaries at the time didn't offer help on spiritual formation. In short, my relationship with God was hardly more ...1