Last week on the JCG blog, I wrote, “I can make my best effort under His sovereign grace to write the best books possible and to minister to people in the most effective, diligent way I know how. But then I have to leave the results to God.”
You’ll remember I highlighted book sales and church growth as two areas in which I often start demanding God to do what I want him to do. God is teaching me, however, that I need to do my part and then leave the results in His hands.
About a year ago, I ministered in a cell church in the Midwest. The church was a model of cell church growth for a number of years, but then it stagnated. The founding pastor felt like he should be seeing growth each year and began to feel like a failure when it stopped appearing. I was very impressed with the life and excitement in the church, but the pastor was down on himself because he didn’t feel successful. “I’m fed up,” he told me. “I’ve just lost interest. Maybe I should be doing something else.” I preached in his church on Sunday and was encouraged by God’s work in the church. But once again the pastor began to condemn himself because the church wasn’t growing each year. He told me that he felt like a failure and that perhaps he should simply leave the church. I listened intently, but eventually I found myself saying, “Who brings the growth? You do many thing well, but you have a problem in trusting God’s sovereignty to bring growth in your church. You need to hang in there until it happens.” His wife, knowing I had hit a raw nerve, encouraged him to listen closely.
When I arrived home in California, I still felt burdened by my conversation with the pastor. Why? Because he’s not alone in his struggles. So many pastors don’t hang in the saddle long enough. They don’t trust God’s sovereign hand to bring the growth and give the eventual victories. They leave too early.
Is there a time when God calls pastors and leaders to move on? O yes. However, moving on when we feel like a failure is not the best time to move. My counsel is to hang in there. The blessing will come. God wants to reach lost souls and make disciples. And He also wants to use you and me in the process. I’ve discovered that leading a church is often more about what God wants to do through me than others. When His lessons are finished in my own life, He then brings the desired growth. God is going to move, but He will do things in His timing. Are we willing to hang in there until God moves? What do you think?