Recent Article: Your Labor is not in Vain
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58
I recently spoke this message to a group of Pastors and leaders in Missouri and felt it would be good to share it here. Although it was primarily intended for leaders engaged in full time ministry, I believe it will help encourage all believers.
Christian ministry is a vocation unlike any other. There are challenges, hazards and pressures ministers deal with that you don’t find in other professions. With both the natural and the supernatural aspects of preaching, teaching, leading, counseling, conducting funerals and weddings, crisis intervention, and the juggling of our professional and personal life, full time ministry is a very demanding assignment.
I’ve heard from more than one minister in recent times that it’s harder to pastor a church today than it was when they first started. People today tend to be more independent-minded. One consequence of this attitude has been a breakdown of respect toward those in authority that has filtered down even into the Church.
In the past the man behind the pulpit, for the most part, was respected, revered and honored as the man God used to speak to His people. When my wife and I were youngsters attending church, we wouldn’t have dreamed of dis-respecting our spiritual leaders or speaking ill of them. Church splits, and parishioners stirring up trouble against leadership was unheard of in the mainline denominational churches.
But today there exists a mindset, even in the Christian world that says, “nobody can tell me what to do. I have just as much say in our church as the Pastor does.” The biblical principal of humble submission to a God-called leader is almost a lost concept among many believers.
Another difficulty in pastoring today is the rise of a “consumer mentality” in churches today. Like shoppers in search of the best buy in stores, a floating population of Christians hop from church to church in search of the best “deal”. They’re looking for a church offering the best programs, the best pastor, and the best praise and worship. Once they’ve found the “perfect” church, and the excitement soon wears away, they’re off in search of another one.
Add to this the competition ministers face with a multi-billion dollar sports, entertainment, and leisure/recreation industry vying for people’s time, attention and money. These things used to be an incidental and somewhat occasional part of people’s lives in America. But in today’s world, sports and leisure dominate the minds of many.
Finally, the advent of 24 hour Christian TV broadcasting has led some to feel that TV ministry can serve as a viable substitute to actual church attendance. Friend, nothing can take the place of our being planted in a local church, supporting the work there, and adding our supply of the Holy Spirit to the place God has called us to be connected.
We are living in a time when sin is glorified and applauded while righteousness is attacked and ridiculed. Our culture embraces lifestyles and behavior the Bible calls “abominations.” Americans, generally speaking, used to respect the things of God. Now we have become in large part a nation of pagans.
The shedding of innocent blood in mothers’ wombs, and the consent of the Supreme Court for two people of the same sex to enter into a legal “union” should cause every Christian to cry out to the Lord for repentance and forgiveness for these blatant national sins.
But, it’s important we realize that God knew these times were coming. He certainly is grieved by all these things, but He is not at all surprised by them. That’s why it was in the plan of God that we ministers and lay Christians alike are alive and here on earth right now. The fact is, we were made for these times!
Acts 17:26 makes this very clear. It reads, “from one man he (God) made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”
We are at this moment in history in the right place at the right time. There is no such thing as a “co-incidence” with God. He chose beforehand that we should occupy our place in His plan right now.
Reading through the Bible, we see that God always had a man, a woman, prepared and in place for their times. To be His voice in times of national backsliding and rebellion. Rugged men and women of faith who stood against the worship of false idols and lamented the times of falling away from God. And we, like them, have been chosen to speak boldly the Word of the Lord.
The prophets, the judges, and the apostles were God’s voice to the people, even though some felt unqualified and incapable of carrying out their God-ordained assignment. Moses tried his best to talk God out of using him to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery. Gideon was raised up by God to defeat the Midianites. The Lord referred to him as “ a mighty man of valor.” But Gideon gave him reasons why he was not qualified to carry out God’s plan for his life.
In the end, Moses and Gideon became convinced that if God was with them nothing would be impossible for them to carry out. Think of people like Esther, Deborah, Daniel, the three Hebrew boys. They had a strong sense of divine destiny. They refused to live in compromise. And they knew they were alive for such a time as this.
Our ministries and callings today are no less important than was theirs! God needs a witness in the earth today every bit as much as He did in the days of the patriarchs, the prophets and the first apostles. If the fields were white unto harvest in the days of Jesus, how much more are they today?
God wants what He bought and paid for! It’s harvest time all over the world. Whether you function in the Body of Christ as a full time minister or not, if you are a Christian, you are a minister. The word “minister” means “one who serves.” We are all called to serve God, serve one another, and serve the people of this world with Christ’s love, His compassion and His power.
As we all labor together in the Lord and with one another to reach the unreached, tell the untold, and love the unlovable, our labor is never in vain. Yes, ministry is very demanding. People are unpredictable and sometimes very hard to deal with. But I believe the Lord has given us everything we need to finish strong. We’ve received His Word, His Holy Spirit, and the wonderful Name of Jesus.
No matter what troubles and trials we encounter as we labor to proclaim Jesus Christ in our generation, eternity alone will reveal that our labor was not in vain in the Lord!