Longevity in Ministry

Anyone in ministry can tell you that there are challenging days. Days that knock the wind out of you. Days that break your heart. Those who stick out the church splits, backbiting, and exhaustion do so because they have learned three important lessons from Christ. Oh, they’ve learned more than three things. Trust me. And they’ve learned some lessons over and over again. But I have come to know that if I want to endure, if I want to be found faithful to the end, I have to remember these three things:


Humility. Ministry is a breeding ground for the human ego. When things are going well, the people praise you. And, let’s be honest, it feels good. Being appreciated, being understood, being liked is something we all desire. We seek approval. But on the days when the crowd shouts, “Fire him,” you will need more than the cheers of the people. God tells us that, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) I learned early on in ministry that if I was going to last in leading the church, I had best remember that it was Jesus doing the work.  God requires a humble heart for His mission to be accomplished. He gives the increase. (1 Corinthians 3:6-8) There is nothing good in me. (Romans 3:10-12) This isn’t self-deprecation. We do not claim to be less than so that people might consider us more holy. It’s not deception. It’s not a false humility. Genuine ministers of the Gospel, whether they hold a title or not, see the brokenness inside themselves and others and cry out to the only one who can bring healing—Jesus.


Identity. Oh the struggle. Who am I? What defines me? Pastors, teachers, and leaders will wrestle with this and come out on the other side better for it. Those inside the church will seek to define you by their agendas. They will use their political rhetoric to sway you toward their vision. Those outside the church will label you without knowing you. And vice versa. There will be days you spend at Jesus’ feet seeking His wisdom to know what is true about what people are telling you. It can leave you empty and searching. Those of us trying to remain faithful to God’s calling in our lives will need to cling to who Jesus says we are. We will not succeed in Heaven’s eyes if we rely on people and positions to give us worth. We will find ourselves battling our own minds about who we know ourselves to be, but we cannot live in those places. We have to cling fiercely to Christ’s words over us, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (2 Corinthians 12:9) We have to proclaim with John, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30) We can never forget that Jesus died for us too. He is our identity. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians2:20)


Eternity. This. This is it. This is the perspective that must remain our focus. Every day, day in and day out, mountain or valley, we chase after the lost for the glory of God. Where people spend eternity matters. We lead people to Jesus and disciple them to lead others. That’s it in a nut shell. This simple, but profound truth will be the rock that those who shepherd the bride of Christ stand on to finish the race well. We do everything because of eternity—ours and others. Jesus died for the world, and the command to take that message to the nations will keep us up at night and on our faces and in our communities until Jesus calls us home. It will carry us through. The love we have for Christ and a world that is headed for Hell unless they place their faith and trust in Him will be our resolve. Ministry has taught us that Jesus is enough.


To the weary, to the hurting, to the one in depression, to the one about to walk away, don’t give up my fellow soldier. Today is a new day. Jesus IS on the throne. Stay humble, keep your identity fixed in Christ, and remember that eternity makes it all worth while.


Be blessed,


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Are You Making Disciples?

It’s been awhile, I know. I get busy and forget how much writing and speaking help me process life. This past week, there have been a couple milestones in the Sharp family and some exciting events in ministry. Our daughter, Kambry, turned three. Our middle son, Klement, has officially been home for two years. Both seem unreal. Our church has also been involved heavily in a local outreach effort and has seen several salvations. Praise God!! All this together has me thinking about birth and the growth that follows.

I’ve been reminiscing for several days; looking back at old photos of when Kambry was born and when Klement came home. There are so many emotions when a child enters the family. There is also a great responsibility. I recall a story a friend once shared with my husband and I about the birth of their first son. She said they brought him home from the hospital, placed his car seat with him strapped inside in the middle of their living room floor, sat down on their couch and stared at him. After a few moments, she and her husband looked at one another as if to say, “What do we do now?”

Parenting feels like that quite often I’ve discovered on my brief journey as a mother of three five and under. There are many moments when I ask myself, “What do I do now?” It is similar, at times, in the context of new believers within the church body. We lead someone to Christ, and there is exceeding joy! As it should be! But then the new wears off, and we aren’t sure what to do with this new person. The high of their spiritual conversion gives way to the real life struggle of guiding this young believer. It takes investment, hard work, and long hours. That doesn’t seem unrealistic when thinking of one’s own children, but we are not as quick to devote ourselves to the lives of those outside our immediate family.

Yet, Christ calls us to pour ourselves into the grueling work of discipleship; to show someone else, one on one, how to walk and live as a follower of Jesus Christ. Just as we would not leave a newborn to fend for itself, we also cannot leave baby Christians to themselves. They need wisdom. They need someone with experience. While we are all in a spiritual process, we can invest in someone else and also learn from others. It is a Barnabas–Paul–Timothy relationship.

Discipleship is a marathon; just like the Christian life. You can’t accomplish it in an hour on Sunday morning. It is the responsibility of the whole church, small groups, and individuals. At every turn, how is our life shaping the life of another? The process of helping someone grow spiritually isn’t easy. It takes sacrifice. It takes correcting in love. There is teaching. There are also set backs and mistakes. Sometimes there is brokenness, but God uses it all to bring glory to Himself if we are seeking after Him.

Anyone who is a parent will tell you that there are hard days, days of questioning, days of tears, and days of wonderful joy. As someone seeking to invest in others, you will have to be vulnerable and selfless. You will make tough decisions that are sometimes not understood. You won’t always be viewed as a hero. Sometimes your efforts may not be recognized at all. Still, this is where Jesus said the life of a believer was to be lived out. As God sent Christ, He sends us (John 20:21). The focus of that sending is not to simply have converts, but to make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

Today, the challenge on my heart that I share with you is how are we impacting those around us? Who are we sowing into? Who are the people we are laying our lives down for? If you can’t think of anyone that you are deliberately discipling, how can you change that? Who can God raise you up to help guide in their Christian walk? It’s not easy, but as the popular adage goes, nothing worth having ever is. So go, and make disciples.

Be blessed!


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Busyness Is Pouring From an Empty Cup

There’s quite a bit of newness to our family’s life right now. We are settling in to a new ministry, church, and home. The last three weeks have flown by! I am currently praying through the different areas I could get involved in. The temptation is to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes my way, but I learned a while ago that I am not meant to serve in every area. There are places God has called me to and gifted me for. Simply put, I had to discover that busyness is not a spiritual gift. Getting involved in your church and community is wonderful and necessary as we live out our faith, but over committing ourselves only leaves us burned out and jaded.

We can confuse Martha with Mary in our spiritual walk. Do you remember the story of Jesus’ visit to the two sister’s home (Luke 10:38-42)? Martha hurried around frantically serving. She was concerned with getting all the boxes checked off her list. The details mattered. Jesus was in her home! She needed these things to be accomplished. She did so out of the right thought, but her service was misguided. When she rebukes her sister, Mary, for sitting and learning at Jesus’ feet, Christ tells her that Mary has chosen what is good. Martha had replaced busyness with serving Jesus, and we can too.

Often, we are overbooked in our personal lives. We have commitments to our families, jobs, and homes. We run to practices, stay late after work, and run all the required errands. Then we come to church and sign-up for every committee, Bible study, and workshop possible. We feel drained in our lives and hope this “service” will renew us. We subconsciously think we are giving something to Jesus.

Don’t misunderstand, working in the church is important. But our heart behind it matters all the more. Mary knew that gleaning from Christ mattered more than hospitality. (Though, again, serving others matters.) Martha was serving before sitting with Jesus. We often do the same. We run ahead, and try to do when we haven’t taken time to be in God’s presence. We are trying to pour from an empty cup. Psalm 23:5c says, “My cup overflows.” Our cup cannot overflow to others if we haven’t taken the time to fill it. We have to set aside time from our hectic lives to read His Word, pray, and simply sit in His presence. When have been at the feet of Jesus in our personal lives, then, and only then, can we truly serve our church and community. People don’t need us running around agitated because we are exhausted doing everything. They need to see us following Jesus in the thing He has called us to; refreshed from spending time with Him.

I know how tempting it is to fill our calendars with all the possibilities, but may I caution you to prayerfully seek how God would have you serve Him through communing with the Holy Spirit. It is okay to say “no” to even good things so that you can say “yes” to the best thing that God has prepared for you. We serve Him, our families, church, and community best when we give from an abundant heart.

This week, consider what God is asking of you. Do you know? Have you spent time with Him? Don’t run ahead to “serve”. Sit and see where He is calling, and pour from a full cup. Be blessed!


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The Danger of Sin

My family was at the beach this past weekend. Our toddlers were enjoying playing near the water’s edge and venturing into the small pools that had formed with the low tide. Our oldest son waded out with his small, plastic, orange boat and began to float it on top of the surface. After a few moments, he became bored with the phenomenon and looked up to see what his siblings were doing. In that moment, a gentle wave took his little ship under and the slow current moved it past him in seconds. I was cautiously watching from just a few steps up the shore and shouted to him that he was going to lose his beloved toy if he wasn’t careful. He quickly focused back on the water, reached down and retrieved the vessel. Smile on his face, he said, “Don’t worry, Mom. I got it.”

That picture has stuck with me, and I’ve thought a lot about that little, plastic boat. How quickly it was taken under. Sometimes, we are like that boat. We launch out into the edge of sin. For a while, we may appear to “float” along with no change. We seem to be succeeding in walking the line of rebellion with no consequences. We may be enjoying whatever vice we have chosen, and no one is the wiser. On the surface, life appears to carry on. Satan has convinced us fully that we can “dabble” in whatever indiscretion it is. We are not aware of the danger lurking underneath. In fact, we are utterly oblivious to it.

Before we realize it, we are completely overcome. The sin that seemed so harmless has consumed us. It is all we think about. We feel as though we are drowning in our own circumstances. It begins to damage relationships. It starts to get dark and hopeless. We may try to convince ourselves and others that we are fine; things are under control. But inside, we know the sad truth is that we are powerless to change. We need help. We need a shout from the shore. We need a hand to reach down and lift us up.

In our Christian walk, the sin we choose to commit doesn’t have to be labeled. It is all the same. Each of us goes astray. That is why it is important to know our enemy. 1 Peter 5:8 warns us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” We must be on guard and vigilant. There is no “harmless” sin. We don’t float on the surface without getting sucked under. Satan would have our marriages, families, and lives destroyed. We must put on our Gospel armor (Ephesians 6:10-18). We have to be accountable to other believers, in love. “Brothers, if anyone is caught in transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1-2) Ultimately, we need Jesus to continue to rescue us. Our journey is a process of sanctification. We must repeatedly repent of any wrong and seek God’s deliverance from sin. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“Examine yourselves…” (2 Corinthians 13:5a) Ask God to search you and know your heart (Psalm 139:23). When He reveals the fault within you, reach up and grab His hand. I am constantly aware that I am nothing without Jesus. My prayer is that you will seek Christ to purify your heart. Be blessed!



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Feeling Divided

I don’t know how to feel this morning. I served breakfast to my three toddlers with a deeply heavy heart. Two are white, and one is black. I am like this country. I am divided in some ways. I have read Facebook posts and blogs from the African American community and from those who serve in law enforcement. It seems so many want us to choose a side. That to believe #blacklivesmatter means that you don’t believe #alllivesmatter, or that if you stand with the #thinblueline you can’t believe there is systematic racism in this country.

There is a problem in America. Even without the media and politics adding fuel to the fire. This racial divide is not new. A friend of mine posted that she believes history is doomed to repeat itself. A friend of my husband’s can’t wait for an African American uprising. The injustice is causing people to cry out. And sometimes in the wrong ways.

I see many looking back to Martin Luther King Jr. His wisdom rings true. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” The difference that some would want to forget is that Dr. King was a Jesus follower. That’s why he was different. He didn’t simply stand up against the wrong of his day (and still ours). He did it in Jesus. While others around him sought to overthrow injustice with violence, he sought peace through protest and proclaiming truth.

In our home, I am terrified for our son. That while he now lives somewhat under my white privilege, one day he will be a teenage boy, a young man. He has been called the “N word” more than once in his short life with us and has also been viewed as “white”. Neither of which are true. His innocence will wane, and he will want to be out late, date, and may make a choice that costs him his life. I don’t want that choice to be driving. I don’t want my son to lose his life. I don’t have to worry about that with our oldest son. That is the problem. We can’t ignore the truth that the system is set against some and favors others.

And the divide in my heart comes because I deeply respect and appreciate those who serve our country and protect our rights, privileges and freedoms. I realize they lay their lives down for us while we sleep soundly in our beds. Their families wring their hands and pray that they will come home each night to their own children. I don’t want their lives taken.

It is not an us versus them. And as long as it is, we will continue to see this horrible scenario played out over and over again. I don’t want history to repeat itself. But for there to be a change, people need to see a change in us. They need to see what they saw in Dr. King. They need to see Jesus. Christ is what unites. He doesn’t divide. The body of Christ, our individual churches, our words and actions, Facebook shares and posts need to cry out for a justice through peace. We grieve with ALL who grieve, and we point them to the one who restores. We have to stand with each other while standing for God. We must be a people who pray; whose hearts are broken as we seek the Lord’s face to heal our nation.

In this aftermath, a slogan or a hashtag just doesn’t seem like enough. I can be for black lives not being taken while also being for law enforcement. I am against the violence no matter what side it comes from. I am an ordinary mother who wants her children to grow up to love Jesus in a world that is wrecked by a racial chasm. I can only have hope in Christ. I can only pass that hope on. Don’t be a part of the divide. Pass on hope, unity, the Gospel.


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Please Don’t Pass Too Quickly

Please don’t pass too quickly.

Memaw tells me these are my best days.

Please don’t pass too quickly.

Though it often feels like a blur.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

Constant feeding; getting snacks, milk, and meals.

Reading stories at least five times.

Soccer practices and games fill up our days.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

I see you growing.

Going off to school.

You’re getting taller.

You need new shoes and clothes.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

You climb in my lap and let me rock you.

Snuggle close in bed in the middle of the night.

Whispers of “I love you, Mommy.”

Kissing boo boos hundreds of times.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

Covering you up again in your own bed.

Searching for stuffed animals in the dark.

“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” all day long.

Running into my leg with all your might for a hug.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

Playing dress-up and tea party.

Picking up Cheerios and Animal Crackers from every room in the house.

Endless bath times.

Painting one more time.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

Covered in sidewalk chalk.

Pull ups that end up in the dryer.

Sleepless nights up with a fever.

Snotty noses and dirty feet.


Please don’t pass too quickly.

I am tired.

Often weary.

Sometimes cranky and impatient.

Yelling, “Hurry!”

Looking forward to naptime and bedtime.

But time, please, don’t pass too quickly.

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the  man who fills his quiver with them!” Psalm 127:4-5

Be Blessed,



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Fear: A Battle For the Heart and Mind

Fear. I find myself thinking about this word daily; feeling its effects. When my husband and I were young and newly married, I was courageous…or ignorant. I’m not sure which. I didn’t fear anything. Whatever Jesus called us to, I was ready. Zealous even. Going to another country that was hostile to the Gospel when I had never even flown before—No problem! Moving across the country without jobs—Let’s do it! I trusted Christ so completely.

Fast forward nearly nine years to the birth of our first child. Ah. There it is. Fear. I am not saying that people who do not have children do not know fear, or that their experiences are not valid. I can only speak to the life I have lived, and being a mother has caused me to know fear.

My husband and I have been married 13 years and have three children, and I worry multiple times a day about their safety, health, and futures. It can consume me. I pray against everything terrible that I can name. Recently, a treasured friend of mine lost her precious baby. I have never known grief so closely in that way. As a minister, you see death, hurt and grief in abundance. But this has been a darkness that I haven’t encountered. I have been broken for this dear brother and sister in the faith and their family. And selfishly, it has heightened my fear. She is living her worst nightmare. My worst fear. Every parent’s fear. And I cannot imagine it.

I have struggled to find some balance. I know that fear is not from the Lord. 2 Timothy 1:7 declares, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of sound mind.” I struggled with anxiety as a teenager. Having panic attacks and worrying constantly. In recent months, these have returned. I can feel out of control; overwhelmed. I have been loading the dish washer and had to stop because I was having trouble breathing. The enemy is so aware of our weaknesses. He hits us where we are vulnerable.

I am human. I can’t avoid that. But I do not need to let Satan steal my peace and joy (John 10:10). If I am allowing him to be Lord, Christ is not. I cannot remain in fear. I have to trust God completely, and let go. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) This is what I am continually learning and striving to submit to. I lift my heart, my fears, my joys (everything) to Christ. I am grateful. I trust Him and rest in the peace that only comes through Him. I have to submit my thoughts and feelings to Him. He will guard my heart and mind. I rebuke Satan, and He must flee (James 4:7). Even if I have to do it continually.

I have found that if I am not reading His Word and praying, the attacks are much more severe, and I am much more tempted to give into my fears. I have to constantly put on my spiritual armor, submit, and pray (Ephesians 6:10-18). Sometimes, it is on a moment to moment basis. But it is improving because I am remembering to run to Jesus and let Him fight my battles for me (Exodus 14:14).

Everyone is afraid of something. Everyone falters. Do you struggle with anxiety, worry, and fear? Satan is battling for our hearts and minds. Remind him that God is in control of you and your life. He can’t have you if you are a child of the King. Speak the truth out loud. Remember to run to Jesus in everything. Remember to give all you are to Him, and allow Him to be the Lord of your life, your heart, your mind. “I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4)

Be blessed!