Humble Growing Pains

Photo by fr4dd, CC BY 2.0

I have preached in front of three people.  I’ve led awkward Bible studies for two or three disinterested young students.  I have been close to canceling major events where I expected hundreds, but only a couple dozen showed up.  I’ve served in ministries that shrank and fought and panicked and split.

If you’re there right now: don’t get discouraged.

Sometimes God calls you to be faithful even when it’s not fruitful.

He is still doing something amazing.  But those breakthroughs only happen when we persist, persevere, and press forward.  We love to see instant miracles, but miracles can grow slowly too. 

We are tempted by a future where we have finally arrived to the big time — but maybe this is it, this moment, where you are called to be completely engaged and totally present, eye to eye, face to face, heart to heart, with your one or two young disciples.  To change even one life is the big time.


Imagine if you got everything you wanted now: if you had your own megachurch, your big business, the CEO title, the million followers, the record label, the book deal.  It might be the worst thing that could ever happen to you. 

For me, I know that if I got everything I wanted when I wanted it, I would’ve turned out to be an intolerable, arrogant, prideful jerk.  God wrecks us through humility.  He breaks our stubborn heifer necks.  He trains us, if only we would receive His discipline as grace.

Jesus had twelve.  He preached in a way that gathered hundreds, but then he would say something like, “Eat my flesh, drink my blood” — and he would be back down to twelve.  He really only had three.  And in the end at the cross: none.

If we are called to be like Christ: let us be last so we may be first.  Let us crucify our flesh to the world, carry the cross, deny ourselves, and follow him with all obedience. 

Don’t give up.  Teach your two or three.  Be all there.  Don’t look too far ahead.  Enjoy this day the Lord has made.  Don’t hold back for some future-version of you.  Pour out your life to those around you now.

The fruits will come.  Sometimes the fruit is you.

— J.S.

18 thoughts on “Humble Growing Pains

  1. This is so great. I have the sense that when you wrote this, it was writing itself, especially the last sentence. You couldn’t have just planned that. Thank God for His work today! 🙂


  2. “Sometimes God calls you to be faithful even when it’s not fruitful…Sometimes the fruit is you.” That is so very true! Sometimes we run far ahead of the Holy Spirit and imagine ourselves having learned the lessons already, not wanting to go through the experiences to learn them.


  3. Matthew 25:14-30 includes, ‘Good job! You’re a good and faithful servant! You proved that you could be trusted with a small amount. I will put you in charge of a large amount. Come and share your master’s happiness.’ (Matt 25:23 GW) – twice!
    It’s those who do their job, whatever it is, that get the job done.
    Thanks again for good words.


  4. “Don’t hold back for some future-version of you. Pour out your life to those around you now.

    The fruits will come. Sometimes the fruit is you.” This is great!

    As a young Christian and excelling musician, I had big plans for what “I” was going to do “for the Lord.” I am SO thankful He did not let me have my way. I would have made such a train wreck of my life…and His name. (I made a train wreck anyway…just was spared doing so in the public’s eye!) His timing is perfect. Oh that I would be more patient!



  5. This is great. Recently, I’ve struggled with continuing to write, something I know God wants me to do. It’s discouraging when the words won’t come, the blog receives zip comments, the novel is a total mess, and there’s no where in real life to turn to for writing advice and personal feedback. It’s difficult. But it’s encouraging to know that other people experience these growing pains. Thank you for the reminder to keep pressing on, even when things are tough.


  6. I think some of the most fruitful things I ever did were accomplished one on one. I think I am good at mass communication but when I think about things that went really well it is mentoring a few really hungry Saints.


    1. I’m reminded of once being told, “Your pastoring sets up your preaching.” In other words, how we do one-on-one has a huge affect on the pulpit. My first pastor, even when he bombed a sermon, still had the ears and hearts of his church because he was in the trenches with us.

      Liked by 1 person

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