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Ministry results? Whose responsibility?

A couple of year ago, I was in Bryan, Ohio (population 8,000) where I conducted one of my Leaders Who Last seminars, hosted by New Hope Community Church. This church worships around 800 on Sunday…10% of the whole town with quite a few influential market-place leaders as part of the church family.

It was a wonderful seminar with leaders from three to four of the neighboring towns joining us. It was especially encouraging to see lots of younger leaders who can be the foundation for future church plants.

I had some great personal conversations with the then lead pastor Pat Schwenk.

Pat and I discussed:

  • Hiring new staff
  • The responsibilities of the lead pastor
  • How to spot and develop future leaders
  • How to deal with conflict
  • Church planting
  • Determining one’s purpose, calling, vision and gifts

Pat asked me how I felt about the time.  When I travel to conduct these seminars and preach on Sunday, I am often asked how I feel about the results of my teaching and preaching. The questions go along the lines of:

  • How did you feel about your teaching?
  • Did you see the results you were praying for?
  • What kind of feedback did you receive on your seminar and preaching (I preached the three morning services at New Hope)?

I always struggle with how to answer the success/fruit/results questions.

Sometime ago I fixated on a phrase from Matthew 9:38, “Lord of the harvest.”

It seems to me that harvest refers to end results.  A farmer can plant, care for and fertilize what has been planted, but he never has control over the end result. As Pat and I drove through mile after mile of farmland to and from the airport, it was obvious that the corn crop took a hit this year due to the drought experienced all over the Midwest and it was sad and discouraging to see. The farmers did everything they could, but they had no control over the end results...they don't control the heat or the lack of rain.

Oh, yes…harvest…whose responsibility is it?

Mark 4:26,27 has something interesting to say about this: “…a farmer planted seeds in a field, and then he went on with his other activities. As the days went by, the seeds sprouted and grew without the farmer’s help.” (NLT)

Paul says something very similar, “My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6,7 NLT.

So these days, as He gives me opportunity to minister in a variety of ways--coaching, preaching, teaching, writing--it is clear to me that I have no control over the end result.  I give it my best and trust Him to do what only He can and will do! I can’t change a heart, convert a soul or transform someone’s unhealthy lifestyle.

I am growing in trusting him for the result and not worrying about it. This doesn’t mean I get lazy or don’t give it my all, but it does mean my trust is not in my efforts but in the sovereign Lord of the Harvest!

Someone put it like this. When I work I work like it’s all up to me and when I pray I pray like it’s all up to God! I don’t know who said it originally, but it has the ring of truth to me.

Question to ponder:

As a leader, are you living with a lot of stress and pressure trying to produce certain results that only God can produce?

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