Fruit in ministry is often delayed. For those of us who serve in the local church this can be a frustrating endeavor. We are the McDonald's generation and we want instantaneous results and immediate fruit. Unfortunately ministry does not often work that way. Spiritual growth is often slow and gradual, not rapid and immediate. This can be incredible frustrating because when you first arrive on the scene to teach a Sunday School class or lead a small group or pastor a church, it can feel like you are not making a difference at all. If you are like me, sometimes you feel like you're talking and teaching the same things until you are blue in the face. unfortunately most of us get so frustrated at this point in our ministry that we just give up and stop. We step down from teaching our Sunday School class or we move on to another church after a couple of years. When we go from one ministry to the next, and we do not plant ourselves and stay we are robbing the people of a consistent, loving, teacher in their lives and you are robbing yourself of the joyful fruit that will follow.
By God's grace, I've reached a place in my ministry years where I am able to begin to see the fruit of my ministry. To be honest, much of the frustrations I just described were frustrations that were my own. But one day, after several years of loving and teaching God will lift the vail and allow you to see some of the fruit of your labor. Such an experience has happened to me as I am spending time with my students here at Caswell this week. The Lord gave me a glimpse of how he has been working in these students lives and how things are starting to click and stick in their minds and hearts.
My primary goal with my students was to help them grasp and be wrecked by the Gospel. I've done my best to teach them to love and cherish God's word and see how Christ impacts all aspects of their lives. Many of my students couldn't even explain the Gospel to me when I first arrived, but that is beginning to change.
As we were sitting in our church group time at Camp Caswell, the power went out throughout the whole camp. This forced everyone to go back to their rooms and our church congregated on the porch and in the rooms. With darkness covering the whole campus, students were forced to do something they don't often know how to do; sit down and talk to one another. Cell Phone batteries were dying and there was no other option but to sit and talk. I was hanging outside with the majority of our students having a great time, but I stepped into our housing area and I walked in on a conversation with three guys who were talking about the christian faith, teenage culture, and the Gospel. I must say, this absolutely caught me off guard. In my two years of pastoring these students, I had never walked in on a spontaneous discussion on the Scriptures and the Gospel. I sat down, joined them, and the conversation spanned from church, entertainment youth ministries, discipleship, legalism, manhood, and the list goes on and on.
So be encouraged this morning. Ministry is hard work. It is often very difficult and by no means glamorous, but do not give up. Be obedient even in the midst of incredible frustration and keep loving and teaching even when there is little fruit. Often times after several years, the Lord will begin to show us the fruit of our labors. It is a joyful gift and it leads me to worshiping my God and my King. God works in spite of us and he often works behind the scenes without us even realizing it.