Reading time: two minutes.
Preaching guru Richard Caemmerer suggested that the appropriate response to, “That was a wonderful sermon, Pastor!” might be, “That remains to be seen.”
The problem for people in ministry is that we usually do not see.
If you ever wondered, “What difference am I making?” you’re not alone.
That’s the nature of work in the kingdom of God. The fruit of the seeds of the gospel planted in the hearts and minds of people we serve are hard to see.
There are not many Prodigal Son type turnarounds week by week.
We labor in classrooms and pulpits for weeks, months, or even years without a word of appreciation, or a reflection about what a difference our ministry has made.
Life change is hard to measure, and sometimes impossible to see from the outside.
Just like Jesus said.
“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.” (Mark 4:26-28)
The work of the Spirit in the lives of people is mysterious and wondrous, and usually unseen. That can be frustrating for people in ministry.
That’s why it’s so important for you to remember God’s promise, and find comfort in his assurance that the work you’re doing is making a big difference, in ways you likely won’t hear about this side of heaven.
But great things are happening because of the seeds you’ve planted.
A kid at college is bombarded by temptation, but rolls over in the middle of the night and remembers, “I have called you by name; you are mine.” You’re making a big difference.
A young couple who moved away after the wedding are struggling to get by, but hold hands and say together, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…” You’re making a big difference.
A flirtatious glance is tossed from the next cubicle. A silent prayer is whispered, “Lord, have mercy, and give me strength.” You’re making a big difference.
You thought he didn’t hear a word in confirmation class, and he disappeared a short time later. Ten years later, five states away, he says to a neighbor, “We’d love to have you and your family join us for worship this Christmas Eve!”
You’re making a big difference.
Homebound. Hurting. Afraid. She sings softly, “But then there breaks, a yet more glorious day…” You’re making a big difference.
A man leaves a career in engineering and enrolls at seminary. His application says, “Years ago my teacher and my Pastor took me aside and told me…” You’re making a big difference.
It remains to be seen. And someday it will be seen.
Keep up the good work. You’re making a big difference.
Thanks for reading.