The following is a testimony shared by Carl B. Sensenig, former Moderator of the Central Schwenkfelder Church. Carl shared this testimony on Sunday, April 15, 2012 at the Central Schwenkfelder Church in Worcester, PA. Carl is also the President and Principal Advisor of Sensenig Capitol Advisors. See www.sensenigcapital.com.
When Pastor David called me a few days ago to ask if I would consider giving a testimony regarding his sermon topic today, I think deep down he knew I would not say no. After all he is very good at that…and I think it is one of the pre-requisites for being an effective pastor. I kiddingly told him, as I had told someone else recently, that I was practicing the fine art of saying “no,” and it’s not easy! And let’s be honest, we can tire in our service, pulling back or stop serving altogether. But this is when we need to remind ourselves of God’s goodness, and what he has done for us in Christ, and become re-energized to serve Him. We both agreed that sometimes we do need to decline different requests in order to maintain a truly healthy balance in our lives. But there are other times, and in our gut we often know when those times are, when we must step up to serve others, and serve the Lord. I must humbly admit to you, I had that feeling roughly seven years ago when I was asked to serve as vice moderator. Our church was going through a rather difficult stretch at that particular time.
As I mentioned in an article in the recent March newsletter….In James 1:17, God’s Word tells us that every good gift comes from Him. God encourages us to give back some of our time and talents so we can truly make a difference in others’ lives – within Central, the surrounding community, and, possibly on a global scale. But in the end, the lives that are touched the most are, quite often, our own. I think that’s why God gives gifts to his people – not primarily as a means of fulfillment for us as individuals, but for the maturing of his church.
Again in the newsletter, I mentioned that early on I became involved with the Potpourri Sunday School class. We had a small team of teachers and Fran Witte asked if I would be willing to teach one Sunday. “Me, are you serious?” Reluctantly I agreed to just one “subbing” Sunday and of course it became many Sundays over the ensuing years. As the saying goes, it was time to take the ball and run with it. Little did I know at the time that I was about to begin to appreciate the unmistakable joy of serving. And you know, serving more often than not, is primarily behind the scenes. As a teacher it’s preparing for 3-4 hours or more for a one-hour class….and, it’s in the actual preparation where we are drawn closer to God.
Having served as Central’s Moderator for the past five years, the opportunity and privilege to serve the Lord has taken on even greater meaning for me personally. As you might expect, the more you put into something the more you get out of it, especially when serving and strengthening one’s faith. This is true whether it’s serving on a board, a committee, or in countless other areas such as children’s ministry, greeting visitors, giving rides to seniors, writing cards of encouragement, or joining in a corporate prayer meeting on a Wednesday evening here at church; the list goes on and on! But through serving, the opportunity to work closely with so many of you has been an incredible blessing to me. Whether it’s the time you give or the amazing talents you have in all sorts of endeavors, I am constantly reminded of how very blessed we are as a church and in all the different ways we can serve and please Him. At the heart of these many blessings are our Pastors, David, Bill, and Julian, who with their collective gifts lead us in our true purpose, that of striving to build God’s Kingdom.
I mentioned earlier about how when asked, I felt I knew I should agree to serve as vice moderator. Then just a couple of years later many of the reasons behind this came into a sharper focus. One of the important benefits of endeavoring to discern God’s vision and mission for Central was – the process itself. In Church Council we were led to a story of Nehemiah. As Charles Swindoll says about Nehemiah, he was a prayer-filled leader who sought God’s leadership in his life. And from him we learn four important lessons about leadership:
First, expect opposition– when the threats came he combined prayers to God with preparations to defend himself and his workers, and when the opposition came he was prepared.
Second, keep a positive perspective – Nehemiah never lost his motivation or his confidence in his powerful God. He defeated his enemies with the glass always being half full, not half empty.
Third, fight your battles with prayer – Woven throughout his personal journey are brief prayers: “Then I prayed to the God of heaven…” (2:4); “Hear us, O our God, for we are despised…” (4:4). Nehemiah fought his battles on his knees.
And fourth, stay close to others – After he inspired his group of volunteers with his vision for the new wall being built in Jerusalem, he stayed close to them. They worked with him and prayed with him and stood guard with him during the entire construction process.
Nehemiah, the prayer-filled leader is a prime example for us all as to how we may better serve the Lord by working together with a strong unity of purpose.
And so, the opportunities are everywhere if we just step up and take advantage of the privilege to serve our Lord. I believe it starts with a true recognition of our mission, to LOVE GOD, SERVE OTHERS, & GROW DISCIPLES.