Long Term Results

I received an e-mail from a woman named Jodi who had briefly attended our church 30 years ago. She wrote, “Something extremely important happened during my time there [at our church].” She went on to describe how she had volunteered to help in a ministry, but that I had made a visit to her home and told her she could not be involved in ministry because she was living with a man to whom she was not married. She wrote that she was “devastated emotionally” and that the next Sunday she cried throughout the service. Apparently she stopped attending soon thereafter.

I don’t remember Jodi or the incident, though throughout my nearly 40 years of ministry I have had a number of difficult conversations with folks who were living a non-repentant lifestyle contrary to the holy ways of Christ and yet wanted to serve in some ministry. How I hated to make those visits!

Jodi then wrote in her e-mail, “But here is my thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling me the truth about my sin. Thank you for caring enough about me to let me know that repentance was the only way to the Lord ~ truly to the Lord. When I think back on my journey to come to know and love the Lord, you stick out most predominately in my mind and heart. Even since that time, there have been VERY few people willing to speak God’s truth into my life in the kind of bold way that you did.”

What a blessing to see the fruit from painfully planted seed 30 years ago! Pastoring can be a real challenge when we have to do the difficult thing and there’s no apparent immediate positive results. In fact, we often get some strong push back or people may even leave the church (as Jodi did). The e-mail from Jodi was a good reminder that we’re not always going to see short-term results. Sometimes we’re called to sow seed that will take years to produce fruit. God’s timing often is not our timing.

Perhaps we don’t see more immediate positive reinforcement for our efforts, more fruit to our labors, because it would go to our heads. I’m wondering that when we get to heaven (and our heads can no longer swell in pride), if part of the joy of heaven will be God revealing to us the wonderful ways He used us here on earth of which we were unaware.

In the meantime, we’re to keep carrying out our calling. We may not see the fruit to our labors, but as long as we seek to remain His faithful servants we should count it a good day!

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