The Plodding Pastor

tortoise_and_hareA minister friend of mine was sharing some of his struggles. They’ve been through a major building program and thought the enhanced facilities would facilitate numerical growth. It didn’t. He’s been at the church a good long time and has seen a lot of ups and downs. He told me, “I’m a plodder.” He is, and it seems to me that’s good.

Anyone can start a race well; the starting line of a marathon is crowded, the finish line not so much. Anyone can be energetic and put forth good effort, for a short time. To do so for the long haul is a different matter.

Remember Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare? The hare had the advantage with speed, the tortoise with perseverance that translated into plodding, and it won the race for him.

A long and faithful ministry is done one week at a time, one sermon at a time, one Bible study at a time, one day at a time, one hospital or nursing home visit at a time, one (do I have to write this?) board meeting at a time, one conversation at a time.

We pastors have been entrusted with a unique call and, as Paul writes, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2) My friend’s success in ministry, and mine too, as well as yours, finds its ultimate measure of success in that final debriefing by the Master Himself when, by His grace, we can hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21,23)