In Christ’s parable of the talents, the master, representing God, gave responsibility to the servants based on individual ability. (Matt 25) The story implies that some pastors have greater competencies than others do.
Similarly, Paul teaches that the Holy Spirit gives gifts as He sees fit. (1 Cor 12)
It’s obvious that the Spirit gives some pastors extra preaching or leading gifts, evidenced in the size and impact of their ministries. It’s easy to become discouraged when we do our best yet don’t see our church grow like others to which we may compare ourselves. When we wrap our identities around numerical results and the numbers don’t increase, the discouragement can overwhelm us. This is especially true for older pastors who realize they may never achieve the dreams they had for ministry.
David Goetz, a marketer and author of Death by Suburb, wrote, “I often sat in the studies of both small-church pastors and mega-church pastors, listening to their stories, their hopes, their plans for significance. I deduced, albeit unscientifically, that often clergymen in midlife had worse crises of limits than did other professionals. Religious professionals went into the ministry for the significance, to make an impact, called by God to make a difference with their lives. But when you are fifty-three and serving a congregation of 250, you know, finally, you’ll never achieve the large-church immortality symbol, the glory that was promised to you. That can be a dark moment-or a dark couple of years.” (Goetz, p 43)
However, noted theologian Fred Rogers, of Mr. Rogers’ fame, recalled an experience he had when attending seminary. He wanted to hear a variety of preachers, so for a time he visited a different church each Sunday. One week he experienced “the most poorly crafted sermon [he] had ever heard.” A friend had accompanied him, and when he turned to her, he found her in tears. She said, “It was exactly what I needed to hear.”
Rogers then told his audience, “That’s when I realized that the space between someone doing the best he or she can and someone in need is holy ground. The Holy Spirit had transformed that feeble sermon for her, and as it turned out, for me too.”
Although the results from our best efforts may look feeble to some, they can touch a heart and change a life when we least expect it. This side of heaven we will never know the people we impacted through our faithful service.
Note from Pastor Tim: Friends, no matter where you find yourself in your service to Christ, remember the Holy Spirit is alongside you doing what you can’t even dream into possibility.
Reprinted with permission from Charles Stone