I’m a product of the instant gratification generation.
If I start watching a video online and it takes more than three seconds to load, forget it. Who’s got that much time on their hands? Not this guy. Thankfully, Google now has instant search. Now I save at least a half second on every web search, giving me three seconds more free time every day.
I don’t like to wait for things. Ever.
Unfortunately, this instant attitude can cause me to have really unrealistic expectations when it comes to doing ministry for the Lord.
Serving the Lord is a slow, long-term project, and fruit is often a very long time in coming. The fruit of parenting isn’t seen in a week or a month, but over the course of years. The members of your small group will probably change over the course of five years, not six months. The fruit of your efforts in children’s ministry probably won’t show up until many years later. That’s just the way it works when it comes to serving the Lord.
That’s why Paul says,
What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:5-7 ESV)
If we look too closely for fruit we’ll probably end up feeling discouraged. We can’t evaluate fruitfulness based upon a single small group meeting, or month of family life, or sermon series. We need to have a big picture, long-term mentality when it comes to serving the Lord.
Sometimes we’ll see fruit, which is a wonderful experience. But other times we’ll just be watering, which is just as pleasing to the Lord. We’re called to be faithful to the task, not faithful to create fruit. God creates the fruit, not us.
If you’re feeling discouraged about a perceived lack of fruitfulness in a particular area, take a step back and look at the big picture. God will produce the fruit. You just need to keep watering.
Do you ever find yourself discouraged by a lack of fruit?