I have often seen “the look” – you know, the one on a pastor’s face that says, “Why do I even bother!” The same look has been on my face, too, during my days as a pastor. It usually appeared in those times of ministry when we had no conversions, no baptisms, no change in anything.
A pastor’s calling is not like a person who lays bricks and at the end of the day can see immediate results. And some days, it’s just hard to realize that you are making a difference.
Recently, my wife Janet and I went to the first meeting of our new Life Group at our church. Earlier, we were in a group for people our age and for a number of reasons that group disbanded. We didn’t join a new group immediately because we wanted to be in a group where God could use us in a different way. We are now grandparents and we wanted to be able to help nurture younger couples in their early stages of marriage. God answered our prayers. We are now in a diverse group of young professionals who are the parents of eight children under the age of five.
Our pastor, Jeff Jones, has been doing a smashing job at clarifying the purpose and identity of our church through a series called “What Makes Us, Us” or essentially, what is our unique DNA as a church. What unfolded in our first group was amazing. People have been listening and they get it! They talked about how Jeff’s sermons are changing their hearts and minds.
One woman shared that she manages a team at a hospital and in group team building exercise they went around the room and shared a little bit about themselves. One of the staff put it right out in front of everyone that they were a child of God first, and then went on to talk about herself. But here’s the best part. Our small group member confessed to the group that she was embarrassed that she hadn’t thought of that. Then she said, “I am praying about how God can use me at work to tell others about him!”
The evening was filled with phrases and images that Pastor Jeff has used. The group even talked about the church’s strategy of how they are reaching out into the community. All I could do was sit there and wish that the pastors on our staff could have been in that living room to see and hear the results of their ministry efforts.
You may feel that you failed as a pastor, but the enemy is to blame for that. Your presence matters. Without churches and the pastors who lead them like you, it would mean no food pantries, single moms would not get the support they need, people in hospitals would not be visited, leaders in the fight against sex-slavery would be sidelined, etc.-you get the picture.
And there’s one more little thing-the one message that can alter the entire trajectory of someone’s eternity would lose its most powerful voice. I loved hearing Dan Reiland in our leadership DIG earlier this year quote Victor Hugo, “When you have done all you can do, go to bed, God is still up.”
You are making a difference!