By Craig Thompson
Just a couple of weeks ago I got a text from a friend—just a picture: boxes of books stacked up in his office.
I offered to help load them into his truck. He’s got to find somewhere for them to go because, after a short tenure, he had to resign from his ministry.
He didn’t fail morally. He didn’t lie. It was just a bad fit that resulted in lots of hurt feelings, lots of anger, and a near church split. The church is taking care of him and his family, and the church is trying to find a road toward healing.
There are boxes of books and pictures removed from the walls, heartache and struggle, and an empty office and church filled with questions.
My Own Shelves and Walls
I read his text and looked up from my desk. The walls of my office have bookcases and mementos from pastoral ministry. My books remind me of and equip me for my task.
There’s a file folder in a drawer filled with cards and notes of encouragement I read during hard days. My ordination certificate is framed to remind me of my calling and the confidence placed in me by my sending church nearly fifteen years ago.
On one wall, I have a framed page from one of Spurgeon’s sermons my wife gave me—it encourages me that one pastor can make a difference. I have an autographed photograph of Clint Eastwood to remind me “a man’s got to know his limitations.”
A Future of Empty Shelves and Full Boxes
I don’t have any boxes. But I could, and one day, I will. One day the walls in my office will be empty, and the floor of my office will have boxes of books.
The picture of boxed books reminded me my office won’t always be mine. The office I occupy belongs to Malvern Hill Baptist Church, and one day it’ll bear someone else’s name on the door.
Someone else’s pictures will fill the desk. Someone may even organize their library by *gasp* the Library of Congress instead of the Dewey Decimal System.
It’s Not Mine, It’s Not Yours
One day I won’t sit behind “my” desk and one day I won’t fill “my” pulpit.
But it isn’t just my office. Your office will one day overflow with boxes. One day you’ll clean out your office.
You may be forced to clean it out because of a bad decision. You may resign in defeat, retire in victory, or simply accept the call to move to another church.
Regardless of the reason, the fact remains, your floor will be filled with boxes, and your walls will be empty.
Remember the Boxes with a Purpose
That picture of boxes should haunt us all just a little bit. Those boxes of books are your future, but they don’t have to be your legacy. What are you doing right now to prepare for the boxes? What legacy will you leave when your books and pictures leave with you. How many lives will you help change?
What are you doing in your office today to make a difference for tomorrow? Who are you counseling? How are you praying? When are you preparing? With whom are you meeting?
The boxes are coming. They’re nearer today than they were yesterday, but you still have time. You have time to serve the Lord, to serve your church, and to make an impact.
You have time to lead well and love extravagantly, and to point others to Jesus, building up God’s kingdom. Don’t presume on your success or tomorrow.
The boxes are coming, but the boxes don’t have to be the end.
CRAIG THOMPSON (@craig_thompson) is the husband of Angela, father of four, and senior pastor of Malvern Hill Baptist Church in Camden, South Carolina.