Over the past years, I have spent many times feeling discouraged about ministry. I often times look at others and the success of their ministry and feel as if my labors, works, offerings are inadequate. I seem to always see the grand scale of others results as compared to my meager results. Though I know we shouldn’t evaluate our ministerial success on the successes of others, let’s face it, we do and more times than we care to mention. I am very glad for the prosperity of others who are steadfast in their ministry and I am thankful and rejoice in their success and blessing. I guess I just need to know that I too am on the correct path and that my small beginnings will also one day evolve into large results. Maybe someone can relate to this as well.
When we work for the Lord and give it our all, we want everything to be fruitful and thriving…plenteous and multiplied! We want to know that when this race is over that we have given it our all and have fought the good fight and finished the race well. We want to have touched as many lives as possible and led multitudes to the Lord. We want to see people delivered, chains loosed, spiritual growth, knowledge increased, and people forever changed and on their way to Heaven.
It is apparent that I am guilty for looking at the size or appearance of things to determine its value. I tend to size things up as I look it over. I associate bigger with better, stronger, faster, more powerful. Shameful I know, but truthful. I have been in prayer about this and with confession of this particular fault, I am hoping this devotion will some way help bring me a little closer to victory and allow continual movement forward with the Lord. Hopefully, it will also encourage others to stand firm and be steadfast.
My devotional text comes from Mark 4:30-32 and explains about a mustard seed. Though most times I associate the mustard seed with faith, this portion of scripture opened up a new meaning to me. I thought of the tiny mustard seed. If I had a variety of many seeds placed before me and had the option to choose one for planting, and of course with no hind-site, would I pick the tiny little mustard seed? I would more than likely chose a larger, hardier looking seed thinking it would yield a greater crop. I think of the statement, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I would completely look past the “potential” of the tiny seed. Thank God, He doesn’t look at who we are or what we are in the present but sees the end result and knows all of our potential. He is already waiting in our tomorrow. He already sees our ministry in action. He already sees the fruits of our labors. He is already looking at us in full-bloom. Just that alone, I find encouraging. I can’t see the big picture. I want immediate results sometimes…often times, which does make me feel discouraged and somewhat defeated. I know this is a trick of the enemy to make me and others feel discouraged or beat down so that we will want to step back, give up, and quit. I have to remind myself of this when these feelings rise up in me.
The tiny mustard seed, seemingly too small to render much result, looks almost incapable or inadequate. I now can relate this to me and my Christian walk. How often do we look at ourselves when it comes to ministry or stepping out in unknown spiritual territory and feel incapable or inadequate? We may feel so small compared to some, seemingly too small to render much result. We may feel untalented or uninspiring, unworthy. We see preachers, teachers, missionaries, musicians, etc and think they are truly amazing and look up to them as if they were always in these positions, sometimes with the assumption that they immediately blossomed into their full-grown potential. They look so confident and sure. They appear to have it all together, moving onward and upward. But, we may have not seen their humble beginnings when they preached their first sermon, sang their first song, journeyed out on their first mission trip, taught their first lesson. We assume they don’t get nervous, discouraged, or feel inadequate themselves. We forget that ministry is an on-going process, with constant learning and maturation. These elders and saints of God were also once tiny mustard seeds that were planted with humble beginnings with their own periods of doubt and insecurity. Being reminded of this also brings encouragement.
I realize that everyone in ministry has to start somewhere. The seed must take root, must soak up the Son, take in the Word (nutrients/food), and have “time” to branch out under God’s direction and plan. It is so vital to stay encouraged during the growth stages and not let the enemy cloud our heads with discouragement and doubt. We can’t look at what things appear because we truly don’t see the full effects of our ministries. We can’t possibly know all those that we may have a positive influence on in just our daily activities, our testimonies. True Christians allow their lights to shine brightly wherever they are and so often times we forget all those that we impact on a day-to-day basis. The result of our ministry may expand to other generations or to areas we never dreamed possible. We can’t just look at the obvious when sometimes it is deeper than it appears on the surface.
As I continued to meditate on this scripture in Mark and let it fully soak in, I was once again encouraged that the tiny mustard seed that once starts as the tiniest seed grows into the largest plant in the garden…be encouraged that there is hope in days ahead. Trust in God, stay steadfast about the Father’s business and before you know it, that little seed will start to grow and grow and grow. Roots will spread, boundaries will expand, and before you know it, those humble beginnings will too have blossomed into a beautiful, mature being…that is strong and mighty, used for God’s purpose.
We must remember to hold our heads up, know that we will be stronger and that any work for the Lord is not in vain and what we do unto the least, we have done it unto the Lord. Run this race with everything, giving 100%. The latter days of our ministry will be greater than the beginning. We must not look at the size or appearance of our ministries in their current stage and believe for one second that what we see is all that it will ever be but know there is so much potential and grab on to the vision of large results and don’t let that go or give up!!