I wanted to point readers to two 2017 posts, that are connected to each other.
Keep plugging away. God is at work in the small. Maybe only a handful of people read your blog. Maybe only 2 people signed up for your class. Maybe only 40 people attend your little church. Numbers are not everything. In fact, numbers can be deceptive. See the post for more.
Numerical growth=spiritual success? God is at work in the small, long-range, and hidden. Let’s get over this simplistic thinking that the size of a church indicates spiritual health. It doesn’t. Numerical growth does not necessarily equal spiritual vitality. Cancer grows – it is not good! Weeds grow – but they choke and destroy. A small church may be spiritually healthy and a big church spiritually anemic, and vice versa. See the post for more.
Now for some personal rambling. I recently received comments from two different people that were similar, although expressed a little differently. These comments were simultaneously encouraging and discouraging.
Both indicated that they appreciated my Bible teaching/preaching, and then said it was sad that my talents are being wasted. Let me clarify – they did not literally mean wasted – as I am sure they would agree with the above two blog posts! However, the point was that they felt that the quality of my Bible teaching/preaching deserves to be heard on a more consistent basis and for a larger audience. I get opportunities to teach/preach here and there, but the one person said I should be heard weekly, or by larger audiences, or at least have more opportunity than just here and there.
When I recently did substitute preaching for a small church when the regular pastor was out of town, the pastor e-mailed me after with this note:
“Laura, your sermon was noted as one of the best and most thoroughly thought out my church folks had ever heard. High praise from all in our weekly Bible study.”
I suppose these things could go to my head. But I don’t think they are. The praise is counterbalanced by the fact that my opportunities are hard to come by, and I am appreciative of every opportunity that comes my way.
I always give it my all. I’ve known people who, because an opportunity was deemed small or insignificant, put minimal effort into it. That is not right. If you can’t be trusted with something small, how can you ever be trusted to properly handle a big opportunity?
I am also glad to gain experience in smaller and more casual environments. If I mess up or somehow embarrass myself, well, only a dozen people will have witnessed it! Phew. haha.
I see every opportunity as a learning opportunity. And indeed, every time I teach/preach I do gain something – a new situation occurs – that helps me gain experience or be adaptable – growing my confidence in a good type of way with public speaking.
Small places deserve quality too! Sometimes small churches or out-of-the-way ministries like a church service at an assisted living facility get sub-par help. In fact, my life-long experience in the church is that about 75% of substitute preachers are…not-so-good or even outright bad.
So, these rambles are to encourage myself, but perhaps they will encourage another.
Because truly, while I see the positives and appreciate every opportunity that comes my way – I also want to bang my head against the wall at times! It is frustrating to get consistent positive feedback, but also feel almost in a state of desperation – having to be so patient and work so hard to even get an opportunity. I’m not the only one, as I’ve observed other cases of incompetent people given opportunity, and competent people overlooked…
For that matter, are you overlooking anyone?? Kelly Ladd Bishop recently shared this on twitter:
“Pastors, look around your church. Who is right in front of you, gifted, called, qualified? Empower those people. Find a space. Create a role. Make a way.”
You are likely not a pastor, but we all have realms of influence. Is there someone you are overlooking? Could you recommend someone’s skill or talent to another?