Just around the corner is God’s, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:23.
When I became a Christian in November 1964 I made myself the promise never to run away from a bad situation; there were many times when I was sorely tempted to break that promise. There was no money; often I struggled to feed the kids; I felt what I did was not considered important or appreciated. There were other missionaries doing this and that in the kingdom of God. There was Mark Buntain’s work in Calcutta and the Prasad’s beautiful school in Bokhara to which visitors flocked — while I only looked after a bunch of raggedy kids in buildings, where in days of yore the boys vied with the bedbugs for space … I never envied anybody anything, I just wished I had some of it. But I didn’t quit! I didn’t run away! I hung on a little bit longer and a little bit longer…
In the olden days before the advent of the computer I hammered out my letters on an old Remington typewriter; at times I was so weary I felt like vomiting, but I told myself, “Just one more letter.” That one became two and three and…
I am often under considerable stress because continually people come to me for financial help. I have often cried, saying over and over again, “Father I can’t, I can’t, I can’t! I have no money.” Then I surprise myself and – I can!
We are not called to be successful; we are called to be faithful, to hang in there and do the best we can with who we are and with what we have. The successful part is God’s job.
God’s formula for success is enshrined in Joshua 1:8. It is a formula that any man or woman, any pastor or missionary can apply.
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
What God told Joshua, he keeps telling us; we just don’t want to listen as it seems too easy, too simple – after all we are educated, sophisticated, intelligent people. The real problem is that being twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, in the Word seems asking a bit too much. This besides it isn’t very glamorous.
But there is no special approach to the ministry unless working your butt off and a lot of “stick-to-ity” is considered a special approach. The beauty of that is that you don’t have to copy anybody else to do it. Still remember, “Success doesn’t always equal effort.” Hudson Taylor said, “To be a missionary you need three things, patience, patience, patience.” This is time honored advice; so is Winston Churchill’s, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
We are oft so blinded by the few mega churches and mega ministries that dot the American continent that we do not see the many, many who like us struggle with dwindling members and dwindling resources.
Let us admit to ourselves that most of us are not mega-church-pastor material; we don’t have the charisma, the flair, but most of all we still answer the distraught jailor’s plea in Acts 16:30, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” with “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” Or the crowd in Acts 2:37-40 who cried out, “Brothers, what shall we do?” with Peter’s reply, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
If you have been faithful in that – you have been faithful, and the “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” will greet us on the portal of Heaven.