Today I decided to share my heart with readers on some of the struggles of putting C201 together, but in the process discovered a number of interesting Biblical principles.
Luke 14:28 in The Voice Bible:
Just imagine that you want to build a tower. Wouldn’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to be sure you have enough to finish what you start?
When you embark on a project like this — writing every day of the week including weekends — it’s important to count the cost of what you’re getting into. I believe strongly that weekends can be a very lonely, depressing time for some people, so at various times at Thinking Out Loud, I actually added an extra post on the days that many bloggers were taking the weekend off. So the commitment here has been 7-days a week, though sometimes I do feel crowded into a box, even if I don’t actually write each post. (Sometimes the editing and selection process is more time-consuming than if I write something original.)
It’s important to know that God’s wants joyful service from us. He is not more blessed, if we do something that is drudgery. His desire for relationship precludes anything that would push us away; He longs to draw us close.
II Cor. 9:7 says:
Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (NIV)
- You shouldn’t give if you don’t want to. You shouldn’t give because you are forced to. (NIrV)
- They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. (CEB)
- But don’t feel sorry that you must give and don’t feel that you are forced to give. (CEV)
- Giving grows out of the heart—otherwise, you’ve reluctantly grumbled “yes” because you felt you had to or because you couldn’t say “no,” (Voice)
So why is what should be joyful service sometimes unpleasant? There are host of reasons why you might be doing it wrong, but I believe one of these is because sometimes you are doing it alone, when God’s plan is partnership.
Mark 6:7 and Luke 10:1
Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.
But it’s important to note that the disciples also brought back stories of results from their mission trip. I love how The Message describes it:
12-13 Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.
But not all missions bear fruit instantly. Sometimes we never hear of the results. When you are posting daily messages online that you know are being visited by hundreds of people each day, you don’t always know who those people are. This is not the same as pastoral ministry where you have community. The search results show that people are seeking information on different topics and may only visit here once. There may be people who only visit your church one time, but that time is pivotal and life-changing. Stories of foreign missions are filled with endings where the missionary thought that there had been no impact, only to find out years later how their ministry had affected lives; only to see the fruit of that ministry reaped a generation later.
Perhaps that’s why Jesus established the tw0-by-two pattern. Christian ministry is often a lonely vocation. Many pastors say they don’t have close friends or close relationships among their parishioners. Other pastors are moved on to new locations every 3-4 years, so deep friendships are not afforded the opportunity to bloom.
(Is this a good place to mention I’m always looking for regular contributors who can either write or source articles that fit the pattern here at C201?)
Consider what Jesus said about fruit in John 15:
- 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
- 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
- 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
- 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit…
If this ministry blesses you, please let me know. If your pastor’s sermons bless you, tell them. If a small group leader’s teachings help and encourage you, let them know.
If you are in leadership and find yourself feeling lonely or unfruitful, here is a verse to encourage you from I Cor. 15:58:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.