Of course it goes without saying that passion for evangelism and a desire to reach more people is of vast importance and should never be set aside. Every individual in the church must continue to strive for reaching the lost, but we must remember that at the same time dissatisfaction in ministry is harmful and always causes division. As the John Macarthur has said many times before, “If I take care of the depth of my ministry, God will take care of the breadth of it”. It was great to witness first hand a couple of faithful missionaries who are preparing for sermons, small groups, VBS, evangelism and one on one time with people in their church, with the same enthusiasm as anyone who has bigger ministries. Likewise, we should work hard to be thankful for what God gives us, and be faithful with it.
Have you ever been disappointed with how small your ministry is?
Perhaps you’re a mom with little children or a small town pastor with a few dozen people, and every once in a while you get an overwhelming sensation of disappointment with how small your ministry is.
This feeling is only multiplied when you are a missionary overseas. Recently, a team from my church was able to go on a mission trip to Rome, Italy. With millions of people living in Rome, only 0.01% are evangelical. This means that Rome is one of the most unreached cities in the world.
Our team of nine people made up about 40% of the Sunday morning church attendance on the Sunday that we were in Rome. The church of about 20 was missing a family of four, and any time that happens they lose 20% of their congregation. Nonetheless, it was an incredible service. People sang with all their hearts, they enjoyed their fellowship together, and—most of all—they loved hearing God’s word. Perhaps I’m biased since the preacher was my father, but they got to hear an incredible sermon. They sat under an expositional feast. The sermon was about Christ’s humiliation out of Philippians 2. They were fed and fed well. The most interesting response came from our team. We were all a little annoyed that only 14 or 15 Italians heard the message. Thousands upon thousands were living within a square mile of the location where this was happening, but only 15 got to hear this great exposition. The preacher had spent hours studying the Greek of this passage, hours working on crafting a message and applying a message for these people, and we couldn’t help but wonder was it a waste?
Have you ever felt that way?
This type of thinking is not only wrong and sinful, but it is dangerous, and we really need to check our hearts and learn to be satisfied with the “talents” that God has given us. Here are a few reasons why we should find satisfaction in whatever ministry God has given to us.
One of the reasons we become unhappy in our ministry is pride. We believe that we are capable of more. We watch other pastors, or other people with successful small groups or Sunday school classes, and we instantly think that we could do the same or even better, and we become bitter. What we are forgetting is that God hasn’t entrusted us with these other ministries, but instead he has given us what we have. The parable of the talents is a great reminder of this (Matt 25:14-30). God has given each of us talents and gifts, and it’s fascinating to put ourselves in that story. If I was given the three talents, I’d be complaining about it. I would be wondering why I wasn’t given the five. It would be easy for a missionary to believe he could pastor a bigger church in America, or a VBS leader to look at the VBS program at the big church down the street and think they could do a better job, but ultimately it is prideful to think that we know better than God about what we are capable of. Perhaps we would do a better job, but God wants us to be satisfied with what He gives us and trust in the amount of ministry he gives us. Besides, we are dealing with souls that will live forever and will have to give an account for each one (Heb. 13:17).
We know the dangers of jealousy. We know from Christ that jealousy is hateful and, ultimately, it is a form of murder. When we look at what someone else has and covet it, we are telling the Lord that we are unthankful with what He has given us.