I hesitate to make an expectations list, for it would by nature be representative, incomplete, and aspiring and thus could appear of a different spirit and cause a different impact than hoped. But, since I am writing in part to risk and reveal myself to my progeny, I proceed . . . .
I determined over 27 years ago when I entered the pastorate that I would work hard on every message I prepared.
I have held to the commitment never to entertain an immoral thought of anyone in the church.
I am determined to love my children and children-in-law equally.
I have happily vowed to be faithful to my wife.
I purpose to carry my load, pay all debts promptly, and owe no man anything.
I intend to be in the Scriptures every day.
But there is a personal expectation about which I must speak in more detail. It explains why I would go on a five-year retreat as I did and why I would pastor the same church all my years of ministry. It explains my understanding of success and failure.
Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21) We are assured that we can personally know Jesus Christ, that He is willing yea desirous to disclose Himself to us. Paul minimized all else for the surpassing worth of this manifestation (Phil. 3:10). Dwelling in the Lord’s presence was David’s singular pursuit (Ps. 27:4).
This disclosure of Christ to me, abiding in Him, enjoying fellowship with Him, walking with Him … this is what I seek. No, better, He is whom I seek. I care not for experience for experience’s sake. I desire His disclosure to me because this disclosure is His desire, because my soul longs for Him, because of the encouragement this personal knowledge can stir in the church, and because of the testimony to those who have not yet believed in Him.
Personal sloth, inconsistency, faithlessness, and worldliness have frustrated my aspirations.
Nevertheless, yes, I want to know Him more and more.
That is the summation of all personal expectations to which I continue to hold myself.