Trying Too Hard… In Jesus’ Name

doorknob-948568_1280 (1)“What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.1 Corinthians 3:5-7

My husband and I were watching one of the Gaither Homecomings last night, when the show paused for an interview with Vestal Goodman. The late singer was asked what advice she would give any aspiring gospel singer, when she replied in her sweet southern accent:

I tell the young people who want to sing for Jesus: If it ain’t from the Lord and it ain’t for the Lord, you might as well hang your sack and go bag groceries. It ain’t gonna work. It simply ain’t gonna work.

Her words make me smile…

Because truth be told, sometimes we may be so caught up in making our work for the kingdom count, that we forget that success God’s way doesn’t necessarily mean that our voices are heard in the four corners of the world… that our blog get amazing hits, or that our speaking or singing schedule is completely full.

Moreover, I wonder how many of us are striving so hard to do “great things for Jesus”, that we forget that we aren’t responsible for the growth of the seeds we plant in His kingdom? Just as Paul mentioned in the passage above, addressing the jealousy that was growing among believers regarding the work of the Lord, we are only instruments used by God to do His work.

True growth comes from Him and Him alone.

Indeed, if we are called by God to do ministry, then our focus should not be on the growth of our ministries.

Neither should I be concerned if so-and-so is more successful than I am…

Neither should I be overly focused on self-promoting…

Or whether what I say is accepted by the masses or not.

If I know that God has called me to do what I do, He will be the One opening the doors… or growing my sphere of influence. He knows the timing, and when I am ready to receive more.

He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” Revelation 3:7-8

When our hearts are in the right place… and at the right time…

He opens doors that no one can close…

And shuts doors that no one can open…

My responsibility is not to strive to do more or be more.  My responsibility is to simply be obedient to my calling, truthful to His Word and to keep my priorities in check:

God first…

Then Family…

Then Ministry.

It’s a chilling thought  when I realize how easy it is to lose focus of these priorities…

Because what good does my ministry do, if my family hurts…

Or what good do the accolades of this world do, if Heaven is silent as men applaud?

Oh, Lord, may it never be…

I’d rather have my children desire to stay close to You, because the work I have done for You did not rob them of precious time with me… and because my life was truthful to the words I wrote, than to have them resent You because my work for You kept me away from them… and made me so stressed out that the Fruit of the Spirit became dim in my life.

I’d rather have people want to know You because of my faith in You, rather than because of eloquent words I may have spoken.

I’d rather take the blunt of criticism, as I stand for Your truth… and have many turn away when I speak because I choose not to compromise, than have multitudes follow me, and watch as You silently turn Your precious Face from me.

I’d rather have Jesus.

I’d rather have family.

Help us, Lord, not to lose focus… and forget that the growth is not ours, anyway. It’s meant to be for Your Glory.

We are mere stewards of Your gifts.

And if “it ain’t from You, and it ain’t for You…” then may we never want it, anyway.

About the author : Patricia Holbrook

Patricia Holbrook

Patricia Holbrook is a Faith columnist, national speaker and the author of Twelve Inches – Bridging the Gap Between What Your Know About God and How You feel. She also writes a weekly blog containing a series of thought-provoking devotionals on her ministry’s webpage. She lives with her husband Steve and two daughters in the Greater Atlanta area.

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