Growth In Christ

A little background…

Paul Gotthardt264 views

Every person has defining moments and conforming forces in their life. They serve as personal moorings for how we see the world and ourselves in the world. When I look back over my life, I can identify several key pieces that developed me as a person.

The primary conforming force in my life was a strong, regular dose of Christianity. I grew up in a Christian home. My parents are both believers and they believed that their primary job was to prepare me and my siblings spiritually for this world and the next. From the time I was a kid, I can remember Christian radio and TV being played in the home. We went to church regularly and we read the Bible daily. While I wasn’t always jazzed about reading the Bible–it did feel good to know a lot of the answers in Sunday School. Everyone is good at something, and my gift seemed to be giving the right answer to Bible questions. From that perspective, it was enjoyable.

A second conforming force (mixed with some defining moments) was learning the value of hard work. My parents had a lot of wisdom to share in this area. “Any job worth doing is worth doing right.” “Take pride in your work.” “Don’t just give it a lick and a promise.” “Hard work never hurt anyone.” When other kids were out playing on Saturday morning, we were doing chores at home. In hindsight, it was probably a whole hour to an hour and a half, but when you’re a kid–it felt like an eternity. At any rate, we learned to work and work hard.

A third conforming force in my life was discipline. As you might imagine, parents who value Christian principles and hard work are usually just a stone’s throw away from strict discipline. And such was the case for the Gotthardt home. My mom was a discipline ninja. She had a knack for knowing the unknowable and real skills when dishing out punishment. I’ve yet to find her rival. My dad was a fantastic “clean up” man. While at work, my mom took care of any disciplinary concerns. If the problem warranted further review, my dad was more than willing to step up to the plate. They worked as a team, and we enjoyed the benefit of focused discipline.

I guess if there were another major defining moment, it would probably be my call to ministry on October 29, 1995. I was in a church service at Calvary Baptist Temple in Savannah, GA. Dr. Jimmy Draper was preaching that morning on Moses at the burning bush. He shared a thought that I had never considered. God did not speak to Moses when he first saw the bush. It was not until Moses turned and walked back that God began to speak. Dr. Draper said, “Some of you have been asking God to speak to you for a long time. But the problem is that you’re too busy to go back. Go back to God and listen.”

That morning, I went forward and knelt at the altar. I had been praying about God’s calling to ministry for over a year. I knew that I had a passion to teach, but I wasn’t sure if I was to be a dedicated lay person or a vocational minister. At the same time, I didn’t want to be the guy who goes forward in tears in October and is selling life insurance the following April. It needed to be real for me. My prayer was, “God, if you want me to serve you in vocational ministry, will you make it unmistakably clear?” About that time, a man tapped me on the shoulder. He said, “The Spirit of God has impressed on my heart to come over let you know that what you’re praying about is the right thing. Do it!” That man was Tony Nolan (a gifted evangelist of our day). The answer came a little quicker than I thought, but I’ve never looked back.

While there are definitely other parts of life that defined who I am–those 4 pieces define much of my approach to the Christian life. A Christian heritage, a desire to work hard, a genetic disposition to discipline, and a strong call to vocational ministry are the pieces that have defined my spiritual walk. In some ways, it would seem like a perfect combination for a pastor. Granted, I cannot count the blessings that I have enjoyed because of these defining moments and forces. However, my struggle developed because I approached God from the same perspective.

For years, my approach to God has been a quest to know the right things, do the right things, work hard on the right things, and do all of it with passion. Ironically, the same past that’s been an asset in my regular life became a liability to my spiritual development.

I’ll share more of what I mean in the days ahead.
Paul Gotthardt
Is learning to live from the overflow of my relationship with Jesus; Husband, Father, Pastor, Church Planter, Author, UGA grad... football and UFC enthusiast.

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