I have no idea what goes on inside of other pastor’s heads, but I assume I am not the only one who struggles with this issue. At least, I hope I am not alone in this. Sunday afternoons are an incredibly emotional time for me. I spend most of the afternoon and evening replaying the mornings’ events. I think about who was not there. I wonder if I did something wrong or have inadvertently missed something. My mind replays every conversation and asks if I said words that represent Christ well. Thoughts often dwell on people who are coming, but there are no visible signs of spiritual growth. The weight of the world comes down on me as I process the morning and the people who fill it.
I openly admit that I am a pessimist. The glass is half-empty. The people are half-committed. The Church seats are half-empty. Things are not as good as they could be in my ministry. The people I lead are mostly disappointed in me. Jesus weeps over me instead of rejoicing.
Through the years, I have tried to overcome this mental war that goes on inside my mind each week. The only remedy that seems to help me is replaying a parable of Jesus. In Matthew chapter 13, he tells a story about a sower who plants the seed in four types of soils. One is hard, another is shallow, a third is surrounded by thorns, and the final one is fertile. My heart hurts when I think that three out of four are bad soil. They will never produce the fruit that God desires. My mind likes to focus on those poor soils and how I can I help change them into something productive.
To remain in ministry as a paid worker or even as a volunteer, you must spend time thinking about that fourth soil. Some days, it is the only thing that keeps me going. Jesus said, “But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:23 NIV 2011). He states that there are people who will hear the gospel and take it very seriously. Not only will it impact their life, but they will produce a harvest for Jesus that will touch up to a hundred lives for him.
There are people who attend our worship every week that are deeply committed to their faith. They read their Bible, pray, give, and serve selflessly in numerous ways. Some parents are guiding their children in the direction of the Lord. A group of people is representing Jesus in their family, work, and community. They are a blessing to the world and are touching hundreds of lives for Jesus. It hurts that it is only one-fourth of the people I lead, but I rejoice at the impact that one third is having.
I can close my eyes and think of face after face of people I know who are living sold-out lives for Jesus. Their faith is a light that blesses the world and encourages me. At times when I am down, I think of that handful of people who are good soil. I hope you are one of those people. If so, I thank God for the blessing you are to everyone, including me.