God works through people and churches who depend on him.
I accepted my first pastorate in 2004 at First Baptist Church in Castroville, TX as a 25-year-old recent seminary graduate. I had not given much thought to leading revitalization throughout my studies, but I found myself leading a church that was still in the process of healing from previous hurt.
They were suffering dysfunction, and decline.
As a new pastor, I did what I thought was best, and that was to thrust myself fully into pastoring by working hard, not being above any task, and doing whatever I thought needed to be done. In many ways, I thought I was being noble, but in reality I was trying to pastor in my own strength and was keeping others from serving.
The result was that I was on the cusp of burnout, and I was disillusioned that revitalization was not happening the way I wanted and in the time I expected. This was humbling because my approach to life and work had provided a degree of success and recognition during college and seminary, but was not working in the church. Then, God graciously brought people into my life who guided me to healthier ways of leading and challenged me to grow in certain areas.
One of the areas of growth was that God led me to step out in faith by providing a vision of the church getting out of debt with the goal of the church calling a youth pastor once the church got out of debt. At the time, the church still had around 15 years on the note, so we set the goal for five years to get out of debt and call a youth pastor. Because the church had limited resources, the goal of five years seemed impossible to me.
But the church had the faith to trust God.
As soon as we stepped out in faith, God began to provide for us in ways I could never have imagined. For example, a predominately African-American …