Saturday, August 1, 2009

Awards That Really Matter

I fondly recall how as a child I enjoyed receiving awards for a job well done. Whether it was a gold star on my paper at school or a pat on the head from a parent, it always made me feel good when someone recognized my hard work. I suppose everyone enjoys being recognized from time to time. But as we grow up, our perspectives begin to change, and we begin to look for different kinds of awards.

This has become even more evident to me in the past nine months. During this time I have been recognized for three major awards by three different institutions. The regional body of my denomination honored me with an evangelism award for leading my church to excel in the areas of outreach and evangelism. The seminary that I recently graduated from with a doctor’s degree in administration gave me a leadership award, which is the highest award they give to students. Just last week I received yet another award from the national mission board of my denomination for excelling in rural church planting. While I was deeply honored by all three of these awards and I am keenly aware that there are many other equally deserving people, somehow these awards don’t hold the fascination that they once did. I realize that such awards are fleeting. Next year each of those institutions will give those awards to another hard working pastor or student and my name will fade from their institutional memories.

This has caused me to reflect on what the awards are that I am really looking for in life. The day after returning from Atlanta, where I received the third award, I stood in the back of a room filled with over 50 teenagers. The vast majority come from unchurched families. They listened intently for nearly an hour as a speaker explained how God has a plan for our lives and everything we experience happens for a reason. Since that time I have had the opportunity to interact with several of those young adults about what they heard and how it affected them. I had the honor of baptizing six of those teens this past Sunday. I cannot help but think that the greatest award in life is to help a young person discover a meaningful faith in Christ. A plaque or a trophy looks nice on a shelf but has no real long term importance. But touching the life of a young person and helping them make peace with God; this is an award that lasts for eternity. While I am touched to have been honored with various awards over the past nine months, my real awards are the teens the Lord has let me impact for Him.

You can come to my office and gaze at the three awards if you want to, but when you get there, you will most likely find me at my kneeling bench praying for my greatest trophies, which are: Taylor, Jonas, Brian, Leo, Lucas, Tucker, Emma, Zack D., Angel, Alex, Gabe, Matt, Tawny, Trey, Mara, Rose, Marshall, Brett, Chrissie, Jesse, Shane, Jayla, Becca, Kelsey, Philip H., Cameo, Kate R, Nick D, Jon C., Faith, Logan, Tayvia, Virgil, Brock, Matt, Jasmine, Andrew, Phil L, Zack L, Katelyn, Ashley, Kyle, Matty, Leah, Hogan, David K, Cody, Lizzy, Mindy, Michaela, Heather, Alex D, Trevor, Bridgett, Justin B, Jared, Brea, Calvin, Katrina, Carolyn, Brittany R, Marissa, Chris L, Bree, Aubre, and Alyssa. And every week the Lord adds more names to the list, for the fields are white unto the harvest. O Lord, may I be faithful in shepherding these young hearts toward You! May my focus be on winning them and not on winning earthly awards.

17 comments:

  1. You have impacted my life more than you will ever know.

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  2. You are so right. To often we seek the awards given by man instead of God's award. Good words.

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  3. Great thoughts. They took me back to a time when my oldest son was not wanting to do what God wanted for his life. Thomas was involved in Karate and I was with him in his corner in New Orleans when he won a World Championship in Karate. On the way home as we rode down the road, I asked him, "what's next." He said, "I don't know, there's got to me more to life than this. It was a thrill to win but for the next several years I can keep beating the same few people but what does that prove, sooner or later a younger, faster stronger young man will dethrone me, then what." It was that night that God showed him that what really matters is that which is eternal.

    Today Thomas is Vice President at Southwestern Seminary. This week he is leading a group of students witnessing at the motorcycle rally in Sturgis.

    Thank-you my brother for all you do for Christ

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  4. I enjoyed this very much. Thanks for sharing it with me.

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  5. CONGRATULATIONS! on all your awards.

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  6. Congratulations to Kay and Terry upon receiving the reward. All glory to the King of Kings. May He be pleased to grant you more of the fruit you itemized in this letter.

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  7. I know how you feel! Some of my greatest encouragement comes from looking around our church and seeing those that are there loving our Lord as a direct result of our family making that commitment to come to Japan 23 years ago. Feel like the Apostle Paul sometimes when he says his joy is in seeing people come to Jesus and grow in Him. I'm waiting for those heavenly crowns.

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  8. Congratulations on the various awards! You truly have earned these by years of faithful service in Vermont. I am especially glad that the NAMB people know where Vermont is nowadays! I understand what you mean when you say that the "awards don’t hold the fascination that they once did." I often tell people that, as a writer and editor, I long ago lost the excitement from seeing my name in print -- unless it is on a check!

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  9. I have enjoyed keeping up with you work by your reports. I think you deserve the three awards and more. Your family deserve an award.

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  10. I was thinking the other day about how much time you have invested in the lives of young people in our community. If every pastor did as much as you do, churches would not be dying and closing down.

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  11. Wonderful! May the Lord grant you great success in discipling those 6 that got baptized. Great joys for sure. You encourage me young man. Keep up the good work!

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  12. Praise the Lord. We pray for you and the youth every day so let us know after the meeting just who has been saved so that we can put that on our list.

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  13. The speaker at church tonight talked about having a passion for God. The passion you have for God encourages young people to be passionate in their own faith. Never loose your passion.

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  14. Terry,
    I heard you didn't even get paid the first two years that you started your church is currently reaching so many postmodern teens for Christ. Wow, faith like that is what we need in America today.

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  15. When I read my teenage son's name in the list above, I thanked God that someone cared enough to invest time in him.

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  16. Looking for practical ways to put some of the principles in this blog post into action? Purchase my book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church. The first part of the book explains why bivocational ministry is biblical, normal and missional. The second part of the book explains how to mobilize the laity to do high level ministry in a team setting with the pastor so that the church can be effective in reaching its community for Christ.
    The book is published by Crossbooks and you can buy the book directly from them at:

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    If you live in Central Vermont, you can purchase a copy at the Faith Community Church in Barre, VT.

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