- Lorie Hedgepeth
First Words 9-12-22
Results don’t always determine the value of our efforts nor the purity of our passion. Many a minister has questioned the value of his/her ministry simply because they could see few results of their efforts. Unfortunately, in the church world, we have come to define “success” by buildings, budgets and crowds.
“For the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
(I Samuel 16:7)
God views and values things differently than man does. Isn’t it strange that we focus on the outward… God focuses on the inward. We look at results - God looks at reasons. We’re all about method… God is all about motive. We are concerned about style. God is concerned about substance. We judge the seen - God judges the unseen. More times than not, we allow the seen to influence the unseen instead of making sure that the unseen influences the seen.
In Ephesians 3:16, Paul prayed that the Ephesian believers would be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in “the inner man”. The inner man being our spirit. It’s amazing what we can endure when our spirit man is sustained and strengthened by the Word of God and the touch of God. The “spirit of man will sustain his infirmity.” (Prov. 18:14) What happens in us determines how we deal with what happens to us. I want to say that again: What happens IN us determines how we deal with what happens TO us.
Does any of this imply that outward and evident efforts don’t matter? The moving of the Holy Spirit in us was never intended to be a substitute for working and exercising diligence in ministry. There is labor involved in ministry. “For the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12). Preparation and organization are important. In Mark 6:40, before there was a miracle there was some preparation: “and they sat down in ranks by hundreds and fifties” …..someone had to organize those people…..there was in excess of five thousand people there! Effort matters - in John 21:11, it states specifically that there were 53 fish caught… the count of the catch was of such significance that the Holy Spirit included that fact in John’s writing. Someone had to empty the nets and count those stinky dead fish.
The point is this: effectiveness in ministry today demands excellence in preparation and presentation. The inward is the most important but not the only important factor in our lives as ministers. Our inward man must be fed daily with the Word of God. We must take time to wait in the Presence of God until we are infused with an anointing that accentuates everything we do. But what we do doesn’t stop there…. we work, plan and prepare so that at the end of the day we know we’ve done our best.
No matter what results you see today, no matter what we see or don’t see from a lifetime of ministry… we must trust the promise:
“...BUT GOD GIVETH THE INCREASE.”
(I Corinthians 3:7)