When it seems like your efforts don’t matter, remember for whom you’re doing it.
Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.Ephesians 6:7
If you are involved in serving others, walking alongside them in their relationship with God, you have probably had moments when you wonder if it’s worth it. You feel like you are giving it your best, but no matter how hard you try, it doesn’t seem to matter.
For those in ministry, when people don’t respond as you might expect, it can be very discouraging. Questions start peppering your mind…Don’t they get it? Why don’t they care? Why don’t they invest more? Is it me? Am I not doing it right?
Apparently, I’m no good at this.
In these moments it is important to re-visit why you started serving in the first place and for whom you are ultimately doing it.
Samuel, a servant leader of Israel way back in the day, had to have been completely frustrated when the nation asked for a king (1 Samuel 1:1-8). He told them God was already their King, but in their immaturity, they insisted on having a king like their pagan neighbors.
In that moment, Samuel probably felt like the last several decades of his life of trying to influence people to trust God and serve Him only were a complete bust. Yet, he didn’t quit doing what servants of God do. I love how Samuel put it:
“As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right.1 Samuel 12:23
In other words, Samuel was not about to let his disappointment with people prevent him from doing what God had called him to do. For the Lord’s sake, he kept at it. He continued praying for folks, teaching them, and serving them, regardless of how they responded.
In closing, I dedicate this post to the memory of my Dad, Rev. John T. Adams, who recently finished his race and entered the Lord’s presence at 87-years old. Dad taught me this important ministry lesson certainly by his words (“Keep on keepin’ on!“), but most vividly by his actions. There were many times throughout his career of serving others that he was treated like just that, a servant, but that never stopped him from loving people and serving them anyway.
Why? Because He did what he did for the Lord. Every Bible lesson he prepared, every message he delivered, every prayer he offered, every visit he made, every building project he worked on, he did it ultimately for Jesus, the unchanging One. His simple motive was to honor the Lord. This spurred him to keep on serving up the Gospel no matter how ornery or difficult people might be and regardless of what he got – or didn’t get – in return.
As Dad saw it, Jesus loved him, died for him, and called him to share the good news with others. So that’s what he did. He never retired from it. Even in the nursing home, as dementia closed in on him, he was smiling, loving, and serving the people around him. Right up ’til Jesus called his name.
Thank you, Dad. To God be the glory.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.