I regularly need these reminders. You may too.
The Lesser Place is a Good Place
If I had my way, every pastor would read The Lord's Work in the Lord's Way and No Little People by Francis Schaeffer once a year. And then I’d have them underline these words. “The Scripture emphasizes that much can come from little if the little is truly consecrated to God. There are no little people and no big people in the true spiritual sense, but only consecrated and unconsecrated people.”
And then, if I had my way, I’d hang this quote from the same chapter in every pastor’s study: “To be wholly committed to God in the place where God wants him — this is the creature glorified … This is the way of the Christian: he should choose the lesser place until God extrudes him into a position of more responsibility and authority … Take the smaller place so you have quietness before God.”
And then I’d pray that we really believed this: that little is much with God, that commitment and contentment in our current ministry assignment is glorious, that smaller ministry assignments can have massive advantages over huge ministry assignments, that every place matters to God.
I don’t have the power to make this happen, but I would if I could.
God Is Doing Much More Than We Realize
It’s probably good that I don’t have this power, because I’d want to hang another quote in every pastor’s office. This one is shorter, and it’s a modified John Piper quote: “God is always doing 10,000 things in your church, and you may be aware of three of them.”
This quote is intended for the pastor who feels discouraged that nothing much is happening in the ministry. We’re poor judges of what God is doing. I’d want to remind the pastor that, at all times, God is doing more than we realize.
Ministry's Supposed to Be Hard
It should be obvious by now why I’m not invited to decorate many offices. I would also hang another quote, this one from 2 Timothy 2:3: “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” I’d remind them that every pastor needs the sacrificial focus of a solider, the rule-keeping obedience of an athlete, and the patient hard work of a farmer. I’d remind them that they don’t need their own power, because they can be strengthened by the grace that’s in Christ Jesus. And then I’d remind them of the payoff: “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.”
Basically, I’d hang most of 2 Timothy 2 in their offices.
When that pastor complained, I’d tell them what one pastor said to me once. “Of course it’s hard! What did you think it would be? Get back to work.” I’d say it with a smile and a hug, of course, but I’d mean it, because ministry’s meant to be hard.
Your Reward Is Coming
And then I’d remind them that their reward is coming. Here I’d simply remind them of 1 Peter 5:4: “When the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” When the hardship’s over, the reward they receive will make everything — everything — worth it.
I need these reminders. Maybe you do too. They’re all true. They’re all important. Just keep going.