This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spheresinfluencesmall.jpgI’m continuing my reading of The Letters of John Newton. What a prolific letter writer! It’s taking me a long time to read through this thick book of his letters. That’s why you’re seeing frequent posts referencing John Newton’s thoughts.

The famous hymn writer, pastor, and author wrote a letter to an unidentified pastor who had greatly influenced his life. In part he writes, “It was, under God, that your favor and influence brought me into the ministry. And though I be nothing—yet he who put it into your heart to patronize me, has been pleased not to allow what you then did for his sake to be wholly in vain. He has been pleased, in a course of years, by so unworthy an instrument as I am, to awaken a number of people, who were at that time dead in trespasses and sins. And now some of them are pressing on to the prize of their high calling in Christ Jesus; and some of them are already before the throne!” (from The Letters of John Newton)

John Newton is famous, but we know nothing of the pastor whom Newton credits for guiding him into the ministry. Newton writes his mentor, sharing how his influence on Newton is spreading among those who Newton is influencing, some of whom are now in heaven.

I wonder if this pastor ever felt he wasn’t having much of an impact for the Lord. Very likely his ministry was obscure by human standards. He may not have had a large sphere of influence, but one of the men he influenced, John Newton, did, and still does have a large sphere of influence. Would we know of John Newton if it hadn’t been for this unknown pastor God used in his life?

The application for our own ministry is obvious. We may never know how far reaching our own ministry is or will be. That’s in God’s hands. We just need to be faithful and minister to those, be they many or few, the Lord puts within our sphere of influence. John Newton’s mentor was faithful with this task, and aren’t we glad he was!