The Refiner's Fire

Early in my adult life, I endured a particularly trying time in ministry leadership. I was 19 and serving as the Pastor of a church - way too young, probably, for the task at hand. I was also naive to the relational issues that sometimes exist in churches and I walked into the middle of a difficult set of circumstances. A few months later, when it was all said and done, way too much had been said, and very little done.

I walked away from that experience feeling like a failure and so discouraged that I privately vowed to give up on being a Pastor. I was determined to stay out of any primary leadership roles and passively coast. But God, as He often does, had His own viewpoint on my experience.

Instead of sitting out on the sidelines, my new Pastor left for another ministry opportunity just three months into my staff role, and the church approached me about becoming their Pastor. Reluctantly, but knowing fully that God was calling, I accepted the position. Instead of certain disaster, I experienced seven and a half years of healing, fulfilling ministry to a wonderful group of people whom I love to this day

While talking to one of my mentors about my experience, he offered a piece of wisdom that I’ve passed on to young leaders many times since... “If you’re going to be something great, God will have to put you through a fire, and if you won’t walk through that fire in one place, you’ll have to face it in the next.” How true!

If you want all that God has for you, if you want to be used greatly in His hands, you’re going to have to walk through a fire of refinement. There are traits and characteristics left over from our sinful nature that prevent us from reaching the full potential for which God created us as leaders, and the only way to be freed and refined enough to rise to that potential is to walk through the fire God has in mind for us. Sometimes we need to be willing to get our feet hot.


Brandon Cox is the Lead Pastor and church planter of Grace Hills Church in Bentonville, Arkansas. He served for a time on staff at Saddleback Church, and continues to serve as the editor and online community director of Pastors.com and Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. Brandon is married to his high school sweetheart, Angie and they have two awesome kids, Ella and Sam. More at BrandonACox.com, and you can also connect with Brandon on facebook and twitter.