Several years ago, during a gap between full-time ministry positions, I was able to serve as interim pastor for a small congregation. The church was conducting a search process for its new pastor so I knew my ministry there would be short term. Even so, I felt blessed to preach each Sunday, to work alongside church leadership, and care for the congregation. Before long the congregation selected a pastoral candidate to interview then soon voted to call him as their new pastor. Even though that meant I was given two weeks’ notice to wrap up as the interim, I rejoiced that the Lord was providing a new shepherd for that precious congregation. A short time later, they invited me to come back and assist at the new pastor’s installation service. It was a joy to stand beside other leaders as we all laid hands on him and prayed for God’s anointing upon his new ministry. I’m truly grateful to have had a role in helping that congregation during their pastoral search and installation of a new lead shepherd.

During the 1st century, John the Baptist enjoyed a brief but powerful interval of public ministry in Israel. For a short time, he led a group of devoted disciples and untold numbers of Jews responded to his prophetic call to “repent and be baptized!” That all changed drastically when Jesus of Nazareth came down to the Jordan River where John was baptizing and convinced him to officiate over his own baptism. At that moment John saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus from heaven and the Father spoke from above declaring, “You are My beloved son!” After baptizing Jesus, John realized that his ministry “calling” had been fulfilled and that his own influence would now need to decrease rather than increase.

This news was deeply disappointing for John’s disciples. John 3:26-29 tells how John consoled them about this by picturing his own ministry role beside Jesus like that of the best man at a wedding. The best man’s duty is to do all in his power to provide for the needs of the bridegroom on his wedding day. And the best man’s reward is seeing the radiant joy of the bridegroom as the wedding unfolds! John the Baptist had no qualms about exiting the ministry stage and letting the public spotlight shift onto Jesus. In fact, John’s heartfelt desire was for Jesus’ ministry to fulfill all that had been prophesied about the coming Messiah by the prophets of old!

Like John, we all go through seasons of service and times of stepping aside. John 3:26-29 is a reminder that whatever role(s) you may fill during your life, there will likely be times when you are called to step aside, hand over the reins, pass the baton, and celebrate someone new stepping into a role that you once filled. May you find joy in seeing God’s blessing in the lives and success of others around you, especially those called to serve the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ!

Pastor Dave Korinek

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