Holding Out the Vision of the Kingdom

I’ve been a full-time pastor for almost 10 years now.  I’ve been in more church buildings and church meetings than I can count.  I’ve helped start programs and run church activities.  I’ve met with people in their best of times and in their worst of times.  I’ve led Bible Studies and preached hundreds of sermons.  I’ve devoted a good portion of my life to serving God and His people.  But in the midst of all of that, I have a nagging sense that I’ve missed something; that there is something deeper and more meaningful that I haven’t yet fully lived in and held out for others.  I sense that I’m not traversing the depths of my own soul or helping others do the same.

The realization of that fact came on me like a blast of wind in my face that could not be ignored when I read this quote from the early 20th century French poet and author Antoine de Saint-Exupery,

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders.  Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

In many ways the church in the United States is struggling.  For many of our churches our numbers and giving are down.  We don’t do the same programs we did years ago, we don’t have the same life and vitality we once had.  I see it in the churches I’ve been privileged to serve, and I see it in my own discouragement.  What I believe I have been missing and what many of my efforts have been lacking is the clear vision of the Kingdom.

It’s ultimately not my job to “drum up” church workers and church activities, rather, by God’s Spirit’s leading and enlightening, I must traverse those deep and dark recesses in my own soul, I must understand who I truly am as God’s child, I must gain a clearer picture of what “Thy Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven” really means, and then I must hold that grand and mighty vision of the Kingdom out for others to see.

Just trying to get people to do things is not very inspiring to me or to them.  It doesn’t capture our imagination, we don’t want to devote our lives to programs.  But I believe God’s Kingdom is breaking into our world more and more.  God’s Spirit is alive and moving, but if our eyes aren’t focused on it, we miss where He is at work redeeming and restoring what has long been broken and damaged, and we miss the opportunity of being a part of that great redemptive work.

I want to give people hope.  I want to help people live meaningful and purposeful lives.  I want our churches to touch as many lives as we can.  I want my own life to matter, and I want others to know that their life matters.  And where I believe the great depths of our meaning and purpose come from is in our identity as a beloved child of the King living fully in His Kingdom for His glory.  That is where I want to live because that is where true life and true love reside.

For His glory,

Ian McMillan

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