By Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married for 41 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling, and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 40 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

    Anticipation: Facing Life and Ministry with Optimism

    Wednesday, May 10, 2023

    On my way to work this morning, the word that kept coming to my mind was anticipation. What were my expectations for the day? By nature I am a self-diagnosed optimist. I have been as far back as I can remember, but at this stage of life I am more of a realistic optimistic than a perpetual optimist. For example, I tend to think the best of people, but with the realization that we are all broken and people will not always meet my expectations.

    As a realistic optimist, I don’t look at the world through rose-colored glasses. As a matter of fact, I believe we are seeing the scenario of II Timothy 3:1-5 fulfilled like never before.

    “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.” (II Timothy 3:1-5 NIV)

    All my pessimistic friends are saying “Yes! Yes! These are the days we are living in!” I would agree there are clouds of darkness and scripture tells us clearly that we can anticipate those clouds. But remember that Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden…in the same way let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16; 19

    With this in mind, let me go back to my original thought of anticipation and expectations for the day. Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it.” If I remind myself that this day is genuinely a day God has made, in spite of all the pressures and challenges it may hold, then I can rejoice and be glad in it. That does not mean my circumstances change, but how I view my circumstances radically change. So, I offer a tool to help with this spiritual mind set. Have things on your calendar that you are looking forward to…good things to anticipate.

    • A good cup of coffee.
    • A meal with friends.
    • Your favorite TV show.
    • Working in your yard.
    • An afternoon of golf.
    • Exercising
    • A date night with your spouse.
    • Premiere of the movie you’ve been waiting for.
    • A day off/Sabbath (turning your phone off).
    • Vacation that has been well planned.
    • Sabbatical

    When we have good things on our calendar that we are anticipating, it helps us deal with the pressures and challenges that come with life and ministry.

    In dealing with pastors, I hear on a regular basis, “I don’t have time to care for me.” And then ministry becomes a “have to” instead of a “get to.” Instead of rejoicing in the day they dread the day. The thought of anticipating something life-giving is seen as selfish and self-centered. Parker Palmer in “Let Your Life Speak”, writes, “Self-care is never a selfish act, it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

    So today, choose to live in anticipation and expectation that this is the day the Lord has made. Be glad because God made the day and you have planned what you can to rejoice in the day.

    Oh, by the way, my greatest anticipation is that Jesus is coming back and it may be today!

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