I have always liked a pursuit. When I used to bow hunt, I was drawn to the pursuit of wild game. Pursuing Jan was a joy. Each morning when I wake up, I began to pursue God and listen for the sound of His voice.
As a young 22-year-old trying to decide my future, I was stopped at a stop light late one night waiting for the light to change. I witnessed the red lights and blaring siren of a police vehicle in pursuit of a fleeing suspect. It was like a scene out of a movie. As the two cars whizzed past, a decision I was pondering about applying to become a cop was sealed. The thought of sitting behind a desk or doing the same boring job for the rest of my life went out the window.
When I entered pastoral ministry one voice formed my understanding of what it meant to pursue God. That voice was A.W. Tozer. I heard his voice most clearly through his seminal book, The Pursuit of God. Tozer’s voice had a prophetic edge to it that sounded like the passionate squeal of the tires and acceleration I witnessed in the police pursuit. He was not trying to make anyone or any institution happy. He was in pursuit of God.
Tozer said in his book that pursuing God with passion can create scorn in those who are too easily satisfied with religious activity instead of a burning passion for more of God. He was not concerned when truth upset the complacent and satisfied status quo.
I once told a group of pastors that the model of ministry they were offered was designed to kill them. At some point, while trying to pay off a church mortgage, making tithers happy, not wanting to offend anyone with what they preached, and managing the constant cycle of joy and depression connected to people coming or leaving their church, they would stop pursuing God and begin to pursue lesser things. That lesser pursuit would disconnect them from their original passion and pursuit of God and cause them to begin pursuing the management of a ministry and making people happy. That is where their passion would die and the pursuit of God would end.
I ask people who have arrived at a passionless place in their life, what were they pursuing, and why were they pursuing it. If our pursuit is anything other than God and satisfying His desires, we will arrive at a dry and desolate spiritual desert where the bleached bones of our previous passion will become a lifeless expression of something that was once alive. This is not just about pastors and church ministry. It applies to all of us across the wide spectrum of our life pursuits.
What is our shared calling? It is to pursue God and Him alone. Everything else will leave us tired, exhausted, and bitter. We need to constantly recalibrate our lives to align with a passion that will motivate us to pursue God at all costs. The future of the Church will be formed by that kind of passionate pursuit.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Garris Elkins