Practical Tips for Weary Servants
Over the last few weeks I've had several people mention to me just how worn out they are in their areas of service. One person that has since moved to another area, told me that they just feel like their service doesn't seem to be effective and another pastor just recently shared how difficult it is to serve when people don't respond. After responding on Facebook to this pastor earlier this morning another pastor specifically said "I wish I had read this 40 years ago." After a statement so striking, I thought it would be advantageous for you all as well. While I am by no means perfect when it comes to these areas, these are some truths that I regularly consider when I'm "weary in well-doing" that will hopefully help you in whatever ministry God has called you to as well.
Focus on Faithfulness not Perfection
We are judged by our faithfulness not by our perfection. None of us are perfect; we are only ministers pointing people to the Lord. When we get to heaven we won't be judged based on how perfectly we did in our ministries but on how faithful we were in serving within our ministries.
Mat 25:21 "His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord."
Don't begin to think that God somehow expects perfection in your service. Remember Satan is the accuser and God is the advocate, so don't get those two confused.
Focus on Your Actions not Others
We are judged on our actions not on other people's actions. You will not stand before God for how other people respond to your ministry but for what you say/do to try to get them to respond. Only the Good Shepherd knows the sheep perfectly and only the Great Physician can heal every hurt perfectly. Don't try to take a role that only Christ can fulfill.
Romans 14:12 "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God."
Just serve faithfully as God's called you to be and let God deal with other people. My father always said, "people will always let you down, but God will never let you down." Remember that you're serving God not them so keep your focus on him.
Focus on Your Calling not Your Results
Some of the greatest prophets in the Bible would have been failures in our minds due to their lack of results. Isaiah (see Is. 6:8-13), Jeremiah (see Jer. 1:8) and Ezekiel (see Ez. 2-3) were each basically told that no one would respond, but that they were to share anyways. Even the disciples were told to dust off their shoes and move on if people rejected them (Luke 9:5). Therefore, if that occasionally happens with me, I can be fine with it as well.
Ezekiel 2:6-7 "And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. (7) And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious."
Remember, your calling is to use your gifts for God's work. You can't produce fruit on your own (we'll talk more about that in a bit), so don't try to bear that burden yourself. Be the servant he's called you to be and let God take care of the results.
Focus on Your Position not Your Profitability
No matter what our efforts consist of, we are still unprofitable servants and that will never change.
Luke 17:10 "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."
While the unprofitable servant parable seems a bit discouraging at first glance, its really quite encouraging because it sets a proper balance for us mentally. It shows that we are servants of the king (our high status), but we can never repay Christ for what he's paid for us (our low status). It basically states that after you do everything you can, you're still never going to pay for what Christ did for you so stop worrying about "being perfect" and just be a faithful and thankful servant. Friend you don't need to nor can you pay Christ back for his sacrifice for you, so start living in loving faith not languishing fear. I'd encourage you to read the book of Galatians if you find yourself struggling in this area.
Focus on Your Privilege to Serve not Your Pride
When these feelings come in my life at least, they are often linked to pride. Feelings like "I should be able to change them," "I should be able to have the answers," or "if I was like this person then this would happen" are false and really quite dangerous. God himself said that he resists (literally he fights as a soldier) the proud, but gives grace to the humble. The reality for whatever ministry you find yourself in is that we cannot accomplish anything of ourselves and that God is the only one that can give an increase of abundant fruit in his people.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. (7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase."
We are increasingly living in a culture of secular humanism and I'm afraid it creeps into our churches and our own lives more often than we like to admit. A focus on ourselves is pride by definition, and we must regularly refocus on the privilege we have to serve a Holy God and His ability to produce lasting change to have any lasting fruit from our efforts.
Focus on Your Gifting not Your Shortcomings
God has gifted you specifically for the ministry to which he's called you. Realize that gifting and use it for the Lord's work without focusing on what gifts you don't have.
Romans 12:4-5 "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: (5) So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
If God has called you to a ministry then you are the best person for that ministry. God gifted you to be what you are, knowing where you'd be and how you'd handle things. Stop comparing yourself with people that have different gifts than you. It's not wise (2 Cor. 10:12) and destructive to the gifts God has given you. Continue to serve by seeking his word and trusting his perfect will that placed you with your unique gifting in your unique place of service.
Focus on the Future not on the Present
While ministering for the Lord is rewarding, sometimes in ministry we go through dark valleys. Some of both the greatest joys and the greatest hurts that I've ever faced were in ministering to people. Consider this though, even if every moment of your ministry was difficult (which it's not), we have a glorious future awaiting for us! Paul after expounding all of the truths of the resurrection exclaims this:
1 Corinthians 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
Did you catch that? Your labor is never in vain if you're doing it for Christ. I understand that ministry is tough sometimes, and I'm in no way implying it's not, but our reward isn't going to come on this world but the one which is to come. Keep serving, keep standing, keep sharing because your labor is never in vain in the Lord!!! I hope this blog post has been encouraging to you. If you need anything specifically , please don't hesitate to contact me.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Jon Utley