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Are You Focused on the Immediate or the Eternal?

As a pastor, you deal with many immediate needs every day—from counseling issues to leadership concerns to preparing your regular weekend messages. And added to that, we’re in the middle of an election year, when everyone is fighting for our attention. 

It’s easy to get caught up in the here and now.

But faithful ministry in our world today that impacts our communities requires something else. Every pastor needs to keep an eternal perspective. 

Keeping an eternal perspective means realizing there’s more to life than just here and now. C.S. Lewis once said, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” You’re in an eternal struggle for the hearts and souls of people in your community. Nothing matters more than that struggle. 

An eternal perspective realizes there are long-term implications for every action we take. Pastors who make a difference in the world around them focus on those eternal implications rather than the immediate ones. At the most, you’ll only live on earth for a mere 90 or so years, but your time in eternity will never end. Your ministry on this side of eternity is simply a prelude to the real thing. 

Noah understood this. The Bible tells us, “[Noah] was the only truly righteous man living on the earth at that time. He tried always to conduct his affairs according to God’s will” (Genesis 6:9 TLB).

Noah was single-focused, always asking, “What does God want me to do?” That’s what an eternally focused life looks like. Noah had a filter. Each decision he made was guided by God’s will. 

Hebrews 13:14 captures what it means to be eternally minded: “For this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our everlasting home in heaven” (TLB).

If you believe and base your ministry on that truth, it will change everything for you and your church. Suddenly, yesterday’s contentious business meeting and your church’s budget failings won’t matter nearly as much. 

Your focus will be on what doesn’t change—helping people to worship the Lord, build Jesus-honoring relationships, become more like Jesus, serve God faithfully, and tell others about Jesus.  

A ministry with an eternal perspective focuses on the purposes of God, which never change. That’s why I wrote in The Purpose Driven Church: “Unless the driving force behind a church is biblical, the health and growth of the church will never be what God intended. Strong churches are not built on programs, personalities, or gimmicks. They are built on the eternal purposes of God.”

Programs, personalities, and gimmicks might produce short-term ministry success, but the results of pursuing God’s purposes last forever. When you have an eternal perspective on your ministry, you realize the most important areas of your work can’t be easily seen.

Paul says, “We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NCV).

A thousand years from now, our church buildings will be nothing but piles of rubble. Our budgets and our strategies won’t matter at all. What really counts is the lasting impact we’ve had on people who will worship Jesus for all of eternity. 

If you truly understand this perspective, you won’t need to stress over the ebbs and flows of your ministry week. The headlines won’t depress you each morning. Your church’s budget shortfalls won’t cause you concern. 

Instead, as you focus on what God’s Word says about eternal issues that matter most, you’ll be free to make a difference with your ministry. 
Remember the words of Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” (NIV). If you are building a ministry on God’s eternal purposes, you can’t fail. God’s purposes will always prevail.

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