They tell you in seminary that, after you preach on Sunday, you should wash your car on Monday … or cut the grass … or paint something. That is, the Bible teacher needs to do something on Monday from which he can see an immediate result. That’s because the Word of God often does not have an immediate (observable) effect on the audience. In fact, your pastor will never see the full impact his ministry is having in the lives of others … at least on this side of the resurrection. And so, to encourage himself, he needs to do something with his hands. Perhaps mowing the yard has prevented a lot of pastors from throwing in the towel.
I don’t think I have ever met an effective servant of God that has not struggled with this issue. They have given their very best to the ministry to which God has called them. But as far as they can tell, they are having little impact in the lives of those they serve.
“Am I really doing any good? I don’t see much fruit.”
One day I said that to a friend of mine; and he hit me square between the eyes with a “question” I needed to hear:
How much fruit do you need to SEE before you can be faithful to your calling?
The answer, of course, is “None.” That’s because faithfulness has nothing to do with results. It has to do with one doggedly remaining in (what seems to be) a stagnated situation because he knows that is where his Master wants him to be … and that’s the ONLY reason he stays.
Dear friends, a day is coming when every reborn Christ-follower will bow before the Judgment Seat of God. And on that day the quality of our stewardship is going to be evaluated. No doubt, we all want to hear our Master say,
Well done, good and faithful servant!
But if that is what we want to hear, there is something we need to come to grips with. We need to clearly understand what it’s going to take for us to become that kind of servant.
The fact is, some things can only be forged on an anvil. Faithfulness is one of them. This trait does not come quickly, nor does it come easily. Indeed, for faithfulness to be dyed into the fabric of one’s soul, he must be put in situations that tempt him to give up … to quit … to stop trying to be and do what Christ has given him to be and do. It is at this point – and only at this point – that faithfulness can be cultivated: when the servant of God, tempted to throw in the towel, keeps going. Not because of the fruit he sees but because of the Calling laid upon his life.
This is the spiritual grit of a faithful servant: the conviction of his Calling
And so, during these “flat” periods of anguish and confusion when we are tempted to give up, let us be fully convinced of what is taking place in our lives:
The Father is cultivating our faithfulness by stretching our endurance.
To be aware of that fact goes a long way in understanding why troubles … and weariness … and circumstances that don’t make any sense are so vital to one’s ministry. It explains why God (seems to be) so slow and so silent and so aloof at times. This is the reality of faithful stewardship.
And at his finish line, he will hear his Master say,
Well done good and faithful slave!
And he will savor that praise throughout eternity.
And eternity is a long, long time.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1st Corinthians 15:58)
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. (Galatians 6:9)