This weekend is a pretty special one for me.  On Sunday, I celebrate two events:

First, I am turning 32.  Just seeing that number is kinda crazy to me.  It’s not a depressing thing, but it just represents a lot of life that God has allowed me to live.  I am very grateful.

Second, I am celebrating 1 decade of being a pastor at North Side Baptist Church.  In a time when some stats say that ministers stay at a church for an average of 2 years, it seems hard to imagine staying somewhere for 10.

10 years ago on my birthday, I began moving my books into an office in the Family Life Center to serve as a full-time yet part-time College and Missions Pastor.  I had just finished up a summer serving M-Fuge in St. Louis, I was engaged to the best girl in the entire world, and I had a hopeful disposition to what was awaiting at North Side.

Things have changed in the last 10 years just a little bit:

  • I wasn’t married when I first came on staff.
  • I had no children then.  I got 3 of them now!
  • I lived in a double-wide trailer as part of my package.
  • I had just graduated college and hadn’t begun on a master’s or a doctorate degree.
  • I was very naive to what ministry would be.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way.  In the last 10 years, I have been some of the most glorious and some of the most difficult times of my life.  I have experienced the joy when Jesus changes lives, and I have been humbled when he has allowed me to be a small part of that.  I have also experienced the frustration with sheep that you want to get it so very badly and the disappointment when they haven’t gotten it yet.  And in both cases, you keep pressing forward.

My first year at North Side, I took a small team to Guatemala for a missions trip.  It was the first that our church had taken like that.  We were spreading the gospel and I was discipling those who went on that trip.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  I was just trying to follow God’s commands for a minister, but I was clueless on how to do it.

You would think after 10 years you would rely on your experience more, but instead it’s just the opposite.  The longer I serve Him, the more I see how much I need Him.

If I’ve learned anything in working on a church staff over the last 10 years, I know that Paul’s words to a young pastor, Timothy, are far better than anything else I could come up with.  For anyone in the ministry, here’s a reminder for all, no matter how long you have been where you are:

  • “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth… (2 Tim. 2:15)
  • Avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness… (2 Tim. 2:16)
  • The Lord knows those who are his and let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart form iniquity… (2 Tim. 2:19)
  • “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use… (2 Tim. 2:21)
  • “Flee from youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart… (2 Tim. 2:22)
  • Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels… (2 Tim. 2:23)
  • “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone
  • Able to teach
  • Patiently enduring evil
  • Correcting his opponents with gentleness, God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

Jesus, these last 10 years have been the absolute best of my life.  They have not been what I expected, but it has been so much better than I could have imagined.  I would follow You anywhere.  Thank you for allowing me to invest my life into the people of North Side.

Travis Agnew is a Christian, husband, father, pastor, author, blogger, and religion instructor.