One phrase that God has been using with me lately is the phrase “faithfully insignificant.” He uses this phrase to talk about my ministry and the posture of my heart. He uses it to describe my relationship with Him.
This all came about as I was examining what it means to be a pastor. What do pastors do? Don’t they build the church they are a part of? Don’t they convict people of sin? Don’t they sow the seeds of the Kingdom and reap a harvest for God?
The answer, I found, to all of these questions is the same – “kind of.”
As I was ruminating on these questions, the Lord began speaking to me all of the promises He has made to His people and His leaders:
“I will build MY church,” Jesus says in Matthew 16:18.
“When [the Holy Spirit] comes, he will convict many in regards to sin,” John 16:8.
“Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing of water through the word, and to present her to Himself and a radiant church, without any stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless,” Ephesians 5:25-27.
“So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow,” 1 Corinthians 3:7.
What I’ve found is that so much of what I think is my job as pastor is actually Jesus’ job as Savior/Bridegroom/King/Judge. I can’t produce the fruit God desires in my own strength. But what I can do is be faithful to do what He tells me.
I can be faithful to love Him first and foremost.
I can be faithful to love whoever He brings into my life.
I can be faithful to plant the seeds of grace, even though He is the One who makes it grow.
I can be faithful to speak in public what I hear in the secret place.
I can be faithful to worship and teach others how to do the same.
I can be faithful to pray and minister the word.
I can be faithful in many things, small and insignificant they may be in the world’s eyes, but esteemed in the eyes of God.
I fall into trouble, however, if I try to flex my spiritual muscles and show how important I think I am because I can gather a crowd or say inspirational things. That is where pride comes in. That is where burnout is inevitable. That is where my heart withers and the Spirit is quenched.
Much better to remain in the place of humility, to let God be my God – the One who vindicates me in the end. To be faithfully insignificant is not to devalue who I am, it is to value Him higher. “The bride belongs to the Bridegroom. The friend [that is me] who attends the Bridegroom waits and listens for Him, and is full of joy when he hears the Bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine… He must become greater; I must become less,” John 3:29-30.
My greatest joy as a pastor is hearing the Bridegroom’s voice – seeing Him wreck His people with words of love, woo them into the place of intimacy and heal their hurts with words spoken tenderly. Bigger buildings don’t accomplish that, nor do larger salaries or service sizes. Only time spent in the secret place allows me to facilitate an intimate encounter between God and His people. And that is only because that secret time of prayer allows my self to diminish and His Spirit to be greater.
A revolution is the making in pastoral ministry. We are once again coming to intimacy and personal devotion as the foundation of effective pastoral care and spiritual direction. I’m excited to see how this develops in the hearts of the pastors in my area. Come Lord Jesus.