Pastoring in the Light of Eternity -- By: Larry E. McCall
RAR 6:2 (Spring 1997) p. 163
Pastoring in the Light of Eternity
When my grandfather was ninety years old he told me the secret of plowing a straight furrow with a horse-drawn plow. With raspy voice and well-worn hands he explained, “To get a straight furrow you must first set your eyes on a tree on the far side of the field. Once your eyes are fixed on that distant object, you must then put your hand to the plow and advance across the field, all the time keeping that tree sighted directly between the horse’s ears.” He guaranteed that this method would not only enable the plowman to get across the field, but to plow a beautifully straight furrow in the process.
I don’t think my grandfather really thought I would ever need to plow a field behind a horse. I was growing up in a different era. But he was teaching me an important lesson. God has called me not to be a farmer, but a pastor. God has put me in His “field,” and I must plow for Him.
How can I as a pastor be sure to plow straight furrows? I am a “goal-oriented” person. I have goals for this ministry and goals for that ministry. Some are weekly goals and some are yearly. A few of my goals extend out for several years. As I look back over my shoulder at the furrow I’ve been plowing, I wonder how straight it is. It seems to zigzag here and there. I fear that I’ve set some of my goals only a short distance ahead of the plow. Upon reaching that point, I’ve reset my goal yet another short distance ahead, and so on as I’ve zigzagged my way across the field in which God has placed me. My problem is not that I’m lacking goals for my ministry, but that I’ve chosen goals that are too “close.” I haven’t set my eyes on a goal that is the whole way across the field.
The longer I’ve been a pastor, the more impressed I have been with the ministry of the apostle Paul. He not only worked hard in the field in which God placed him, but he did so with his eyes set the “whole way across the field.” Paul
RAR 6:2 (Spring 1997) p. 164
ministered with his eyes set on eternity. In Philippians 3:12–14 he wrote,
I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Such an eternal focus had an obvious effect on Paul’s daily ministry. Having his eyes set on an eternal goal enabled him to “plow a straight furrow.” This eternal focus mot...
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