My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6
When I began to plant the church I now lead in Cincinnati, I expended tremendous amounts of energy to get it off the ground. I spoke with some fifteen hundred people over a two-year period, sharing my vision for this new church and mustering up as much enthusiasm as I could. Yet in spite of all of this effort, our first Sunday service saw only thirty-seven in attendance. A little bit of math shows that's a rejection rate of over 97 percent! It was then that I rediscovered the verse above: It is our job to do the planting and watering but God's to make growth happen.
I have come to realize that I spent the first part of my Christian life exerting a tremendous amount of human effort trying to accomplish what only God can do: to bring about a harvest of fruit. Yes, I am called to be diligent about planting and watering, but I am not responsible for the final result.
This insight has encouraged me as a leader and has reminded me of my limitations. I can become anxious about ministry ventures, wondering if something I've invested a lot of effort in will ever come to fruition. It is then that I have to sit back and pray, "Well, God, I've done about all I can do. I guess now you've got a challenge. I've planted and watered, and I will keep on watering the best I know how, but you are the one who has to bring about a harvest."
I no longer believe I can do a big thing. As a leader, all I am really capable of doing are the small things. But a small thing done consistently in the hands of God is capable of changing the world. God is looking for leaders who are willing to do small things, who are willing to be diligent, and then who are willing to get out of the way.
Can I be content with doing that small thing for God, or do I have a need to do the big, splashy, visible thing?
God, you know how long I've been trying to make happen. Sometimes I get so discouraged and feel my efforts are getting nowhere. Work within me so that I can turn the results of this over to you and feel content that I've done what I can on your behalf.
"We ore too little to be able always to rise obove difficulties. Well, then, let us poss beneath them quite simply."
Thérèse of Lisieux, twentieth-century mystic
Copyright Tyndale House Publishers.
Used by permission.