With many clergy wrestling with new appointments and others disillusioned over being reassigned to places that seem unfruitful, here is a timely word from Bishop James Swanson, episcopal leader of the Holston Conference.
[A]nytime you find yourself being consumed where you’re only thinking about yourself, you’re in danger. You’re in danger of missing the very thing you want — because then you’re going to start acting on your own behalf when you don’t even know what your own future holds.
God holds your future — and regardless [of] what anybody will tell you, when we sit around the table to make the appointments…the vast majority of times, we don’t even have a clue.
God reveals it in the midst of the process….
I want you to understand: It’s impossible for the bishop or anybody to send you anywhere that God doesn’t want you to be.
If you don’t believe that…quit preaching that God is all powerful. Don’t say that anymore! Don’t ever tell anybody, “He’s got the whole world in His hands!” And that “It’s God’s plan, and no matter what man or woman does, God’s will will be performed!”
You quit telling folk that, because you don’t believe it!
If you don’t come to a point where you believe that you are in God’s hand and that God’s going to take care of you, your whole life will be miserable — and you will spew your misery on all your people….
How can you tell a man who just lost his job…[that] God’s going to make a way when you don’t believe that God’s going to make a way for you?
How can you tell a woman who just came through divorce, who all of her life has depended on somebody else to take care of her, how can you tell her that God’s going to walk by her side when you don’t believe that God’s walking by your side because you didn’t get the appointment you wanted?
How can you do that?
Use the audio player below to listen to Bishop Swanson’s remarks about trusting God (4.5 min.), recorded at an April 2006 pastor’s retreat at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. (Note: His remarks reference the biblical account of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in law, who was suffering from a high fever.)
Be still my soul: the Lord is on your side.
Be still my soul: your best, your heavenly friend
|— Katharina von Schlegel / trans. by Jane Borthwick|
James E. Swanson Sr. was elected to the episcopacy in 2004 and assigned to the Holston Conference, which includes parts of Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia. At the time of his election, he was a District Superintendent in the South Georgia Conference.
Before becoming a D.S., he was the pastor of St. Mary’s Road United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ga., a congregation that under his leadership grew from 16 active members to a weekly attendance of more than 500.
|•||Biography of Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.|
|•||Web site of the Holston Conference|