I know what it is like to question my effectiveness in ministry. Do you?
Often I wonder, "Am I truly making a difference?" "Is the labor of my life encouraging anyone to embrace a vibrant faith?"
If you are a woman in ministry, I would assume that these same questions have tormented you, like they have me, from time to time.
Paul, Silas and Timothy faced the same questions as they thought about the church that they had planted in Thessalonica. They started the Thessalonian church but had to leave in its infant stages because those apostles' very lives were threatened.
Paul later sent Timothy to check on this suckling church to see how the new believers were faring.
Timothy brought back a stellar report! Not only was the church at Thessalonica still standing, but also the Thessalonians were actually growing in their faith!
"But just now Timothy has come from you to us and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good memories of us, desiring greatly to see us, as we also desire to see you. Therefore, brothers, during all our afflictions and distress, we have been encouraged about you through your faith. For now we live, if you stand strong in the Lord" (I Thess. 3:6-8, MEV).
The words of Paul ricochet through the ages and hit a bulls-eye in this weary heart of mine. The single determinate that has the capacity to encourage an overworked minister is the knowledge that somebody who has received the investment of one's ministry is now living with a vibrant faith!
Timothy brought an energizing report to Silas and Paul! The Thessalonians were standing firm!
Paul and Silas were being persecuted to the point of death and the only piece of information that they desired from the church at Thessalonica was, "Are you o.k.?"
The heart of Paul rings with clarity and richness in these memorable words, "For now we live if you stand strong in the Lord!"(I Thess. 3:8, MEV).
You, my sisters in ministry, will discover the secret to life at its finest when you choose to serve someone who needs you.
Paul was wise enough to realize that abundant life and personal fulfillment is eternally tied to the giving of one's life away for others.
"For now ... we really live ... if YOU stand firm in the Lord!"
My life is not about me but it is about you and your life. If I know that the people to whom I have ministered are standing firm in the Lord, that is what gives my life distinct and valuable meaning.
I don't need Rodeo Drive ... or mani-pedi's ... or expensive furniture ... or a private jet. All I need to know is that the people in whom I have left a deposit of the gospel are living passionately for Christ!
Knowing that those under my watch "get it" when it comes to the gospel is the very best paycheck ever!
Paul, Silas and Timothy knew the truth of what you and I often ignore—abundant life is not tied into stuff or things but it is intrinsically linked into the call of making a difference in someone else's life.
There is no greater joy than that!
Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books: No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, will be released on Aug. 1. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming.
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