Our society is a victim of the microwave, drive-thru, jet plane world. We all want what we want right away. If we have to wait more than 5 minutes for our food we wonder if they had to go kill the cow to make it. If we get caught in traffic and we are ONLY traveling 40mph the world might end. We want everything to be instant, and that attitude has made it’s way into every single part of our culture. Yes, even into ministry.
We all want to see immediate success in our ministries. It might not look the same for all of us, but whatever it is that you deem as “success” is usually what we want to see immediately. This is one of the major reasons the statistics say youth workers only stay at their churches for 1.5 to 2 years. Now, I don’t know if this statistic is completely accurate or if it has changed recently, but I do know what I have seen. Many, many youth workers experiencing burnout, changing churches often, and dropping out of ministry all together. I see it almost daily through the various networks and contacts that I have.
But I think we all need to take a step back in time. 200 years ago I doubt the ‘it’s gotta happen now’ attitude was as much of an issue. Everything just took more time. They wanted to travel across the country, it didn’t take just 5 hrs. They wanted to travel 10 miles, it didn’t take just 10 minutes. Until recent years that is the way it was, and especially 2000 years ago when our Scriptures were being lived out.
One of the best places to point to when talking about church growth and exciting times in the history of the church is the book of Acts. We all know that, and have probably all read it many times. I mean, who hasn’t wished that their ministry looked like the book of Acts!?!? Everywhere Peter and Paul went people got saved, “Many were added to their number daily” come on, wouldn’t that be awesome!?
Was it amazingly exciting? YES! But here is what I think we forget, the book of Acts spans about 30 years. It is so easy to read two sentences of what Paul did in about four seconds, but in reality those two sentences cover three or four years of time. The events in the book of Acts took a while. Paul was extremely persistent! That guy would go from town to town, and not to just preach one sermon and see a whole bunch of people get saved, but to stay there for a year, two years, sometimes many years. Paul was not living in a microwave, drive-thru society and I think we could learn so much from him.
We need to change our lens.
Slow down and realize what God wants you to do. I am not an advocate of sitting around and just expecting things to get better, or success to happen. So please do not think that that is what I am saying. Do we need to work our butts off? Yes! But we also need to learn to listen to God and do what He has called us to. Don’t expect things to be microwaved, they may need to be slow cooked. Paul’s ministry happened over 25+ years, not a year and a half. Slow down and get perspective on where you are, what needs to be done, and where God is leading.
Be persistent in what He has called you to. Are there unhealthy churches? YES! And I have experienced them first hand so I am not saying that that doesn’t happen. But I think we can all agree that we need to be more persistent at times. This thing called ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. We need to run it has hard as we can, but don’t expect the finish line to be a year down the road. Stay faithful and be persistent when times of discouragement come. Paul certainly faced many times of discouragement! But he was able to persist through it all for a very long time. We need to learn from Paul and be persistent in fighting the good fight.
‘It didn’t happen how I wanted it to’, ‘this is not what I signed up for’, ‘I thought it would be easier’, ‘maybe I am not cut out for this’. You may have found yourself saying all of these things, and I am pretty sure I have said all of these things. But we need to remember to slow down, and be persistent. Your ministry journey is not microwavable. Slow down, enjoy the process, and be persistent pressing on toward the goal!