Pastor Aaron Gray has completed the Lead Pastor Residency program at Mars Hill Church and is now the lead pastor of Mars Hill Shoreline. Applications are being accepted for the residency program through May 1st. If God is calling you to be a lead pastor at Mars Hill, apply today.
“I don’t have a testimony”
Before I was born, my parents were rebellious, party-going-drug-using-bar-musician-heathens. In God’s providence, the midwife who attended my birth was a Christian. She repeatedly shared the gospel with my parents and invited them to church. (I think she had pity on me—“This poor baby doesn’t stand a chance. I gotta get these people to church!”) When I was three years old, God saved my parents and miraculously delivered them from a decade of substance abuse and foolish living.
From that point on, I quite literally grew up in the church. I have heard thousands of testimonies of God’s grace. People who should be dead. People who should never have been Christians. People who used to be atheists or Buddhists or Wiccans or New York Yankee fans. I remember sitting in church as a teenager and thinking, “Wow, my story doesn’t sound anything like theirs. I must not have a testimony.”
I must be good
Years back, when I first started podcasting Pastor Mark Driscoll, he said a line in a sermon that I’ll never forget: “I pray that my children grow up and have really boring testimonies.” I thought to myself, “Hey, that’s me!” I mean, I’ve never even used drugs. I waited until my 21st birthday to drink my first beer. I went to college and actually remember most of it (at least the classes I didn’t sleep through).
There was a problem, however. Even though I knew the words of Romans 3:23 (I did earn ribbons for Bible memorization in Sunday school, after all) they somehow felt like they had an asterisk and small print next to them:
“For all* have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
*Except your sin isn’t like those people who share crazy testimonies at church. You’ve never been to jail or doubted God’s existence or wandered like the prodigal son. You’re probably good; carry on.
I’m not good
There was a huge problem with my self-assessment. Romans 3:10 says, “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” I won’t go into all the details here, but God has used a variety of difficult, painful circumstances in my life to reveal to me the true depths of my depravity. He has shown me more and more of my heart— a heart that is prideful, boastful, lustful, covetous, lazy, greedy, selfish, cowardly. I’m guilty of all these sins and many more!
My testimony could actually be summarized more like waking up to the fact that even though my sin wasn’t the type that would get me thrown into prison, it was still the type that would get me thrown into hell. I have learned over the years (and am still learning!) that despite my “boring” testimony, I need a savior every bit as much as the murderer, the drug dealer, or the prostitute. Even though not all sins are exactly the same in terms of their consequences, Galatians 5:19–21 really levels the playing field for various types of sinners:
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Both “big” sins like sorcery and orgies produce the same outcome as “smaller” sins like envy and division—exclusion from the kingdom of God. Thank God for his grace for all types of sinners!
Do you have a boring testimony?
If you’re the type of person who has a boring testimony, take heart! You also are a sinner who deserves hell apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Just because your sins weren’t as directly destructive to society doesn’t mean that you’re not rebellious. As Tim Keller has famously said, “We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” Jesus’ death on the cross was every bit as much for you as for anyone else.
Also, don’t think you need to make anything up or embellish the facts to make your testimony more “sexy.” If you have a boring testimony, that’s okay. Your desire to spice things up comes from your own pride anyway. Plus, it would be lying—both of which are sins (see my previous point).
Lastly, you don’t get to take the credit for your boring testimony; it’s God’s grace. You may have made some wise choices along the way, but the Bible says in James 1 that wisdom comes from God anyways. Jesus is the one who gets the credit, not you.
If you are someone like Pastor Aaron who has a “boring” testimony and have mistakenly believed that you needed a more exciting story to be a pastor, think again. We need humble leaders of leaders with all types of testimonies to get trained on how to lead our churches. Click here to learn more about the Lead Pastor Residency.