This afternoon, my friend Keelan Atkinson and I were talking about about spiritual leadership, church life, and pastoral ministry. To both warn and encourage me to keep my priorities straight in the days to come, Keelan shared with me a story that the late Pastor D.J. Ward told him some years ago. After he told me the story and we discussed it some, I asked if I share it on my blog. Actually, I think I announced that I was going to post it, rather than just asking. But Keelan was gracious and encouraged me to do so. I promised to give credit. If I am mis-telling parts of the story, it’s my fault for not remembering the details. But I do have the main point of the story down. And I pray that I won’t soon forget it.
Ten thieves descended on a certain town, plotting to clean out the local bank. Three of the bandits went to the stables, set them on fire, and then fled the town. All of the townspeople rushed to the stables to put out the fire. And as they focused on putting out the fire in the stables, the seven remaining bandits robbed the bank!
In ministry, there are many times we are tempted to pay too much attention to secondary matters. The urgent screams for our attention, causing us to ignore the quiet whisper of the important that beckons for our attention. And we invest all of our resources in protecting the stables. But in so doing, we leave the bank unprotected. This is not how the way to spiritual victory, true success, or God-glorifying fruitfulness. If you give all you have to keeping the stables safe, you lose the resources you need to care for the town as the bank is looted. But if you guard the bank, you can build more stables.
So we must keep our priorities straight.
We must be consumed by the glory of God in everything.
We must worship in spirit and in truth.
We must yield to the preeminence of Christ over the church in all things.
We must let the church be the church.
We must make disciples of all the nations.
We must love one another as Christ has loved us.
We must preached the word in season and out of season.
We must let the word of God be the final authority and firm foundation for ministry.
We must season and marinate all that we undertake in prayer.
We must guard the bank at all costs!