(Note: This article first ran on our website in September 2012. Some of the identifying notes are dated, some of the people have moved, that sort of thing. But I’m going to reprint it as it ran then with a few tweaks. Thank you.)
“Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening; for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good.” (Ecclesiastes 11:6)
“And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” (Galatians 6:9)
A great many ministers are sitting in judgment on their own work. And it’s not looking good for them.
They will decide their portion of Kingdom work is not going very well, feel guilty because they are so ineffective, and grow discouraged. Instead of giving their all day in and day out over a long life of service and obedience, they turn inward, give less and less of themselves, while the visible results they so long for become more and more scarce.
You’re not the judge, just a worker in the field of the Lord.
Now, get back out there and trust that the Lord knows what He was doing when He assigned you to this corner of the Kingdom.
Jeff Christopherson knows. Jeff loves to tell about something that happened to his parents.
In the 1960s, his parents, Allan and Helen Christopherson were living in Prince Albert, Canada, where Allan cleaned storage tanks for a brewery. The pay was low, but the beer was free. As a result, alcoholism was rampant.
In 1967, Allan and Helen went to a movie to see “The Restless Ones,” a Billy-Graham-produced movie with a strong evangelistic thrust. Toward the end, Mr. Graham extended Heaven’s invitation for the audience to repent and turn to Christ. In the solitude of their 1958 VW Beetle, the Christophersons held hands and gave their hearts to Christ.
As the movie ended, a man in a dark suit took the microphone in the drive-in and invited those wishing to respond to the Lord to come up and pray with him. No one came.
Allan Christopherson, however, had given his heart to Christ. He quit his job, learned a new trade as a welder, and with his wife became active in serving the Lord. Under the leadership and tutelage of Pastor Jack Conner, God used them to start several new churches.
Now, fast-forward a full generation. Franklin Graham was coming for a meeting in Saskatoon and Allan Christopherson was on the planning committee. At the initial meeting, the chairman welcomed everyone, then asked anyone whose life had been changed through the Billy Graham ministry to come to the front and share the story.
Allan kept saying to himself, “No one wants to hear you; you’re just a welder,” but he walked to the front and began to speak. Allan told of watching “The Restless Ones” in the drive-in, of the commitment he and his wife made in the car, and of the churches they had started. He told about their son Jeff who was pastoring in Toronto. Their daughter had married a minister, Allan said, and they were now ministering in South America.
He ended by saying, “Only God knows how many hundreds of lives are now in the kingdom because my wife and I went to the movies that day.” And he sat down.
There was silence for a bit, then an elderly man walked to the front. He turned around at the mic and said, “Allan, my name is Tom Dice. I am a retired family counselor in the area. I want you to know something. In 1967 God told me to bring that movie to Prince Albert. I rallied my friends and colleagues, and we really expected great things to happen. Night after night we played that movie and night after night I stood before the audience and asked them to respond to Christ. But night after night I went home very disappointed.”
“Until this day,” Tom Dice said, “to my knowledge, nobody had ever responded. I thought it was a failure. And many a time I wondered if I had heard God right in the first place. But I did hear him, Allan. I now see that it wasn’t a failure.”
The men hugged. They wept, and Tom Dice kept saying, “Now I see. Praise Jesus, now I see.”
(This is from Jeff Christopherson’s book Kingdom Matrix: Designing a Church for the Kingdom of God; Russell Media, 2012.)
A story in one of our denominational magazines told of Matt and Attica Hess, a young couple who were leaving their home in the Deep South to start a church in Toronto. From Collierville, Tennessee, the article said. And I sat up straight.
I know the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Collierville. Chuck Herring.
The article told how Dr. Herring and his thriving congregation in this western Tennessee city were praying about beginning a new work somewhere in North America. Meanwhile, Matt and Attica, former staff members of that very church, were pastoring a church in Mississippi and seeking direction from the same Lord.
The article reads, “The Hess family found their focus specifically drawn to Canada, a populous yet severely underserved region in North America. After a trip to Toronto confirmed their love for the nation, Matt and Attica decided to step out on faith and set to work preparing themselves for a move to the city to plant a church. But they would not do it alone.”
Dr. Chuck Herring, who treasured Matt and Attica, saw the answer to his own prayer in them. His church would bring this couple on staff as “church planters in residency,” a position created especially for them.
But I want to make a point about the Chuck Herring connection.
I was pastor to Chuck and Darlene Herring when they were young marrieds and he was coaching football in high school.
Later they moved to another Mississippi town to coach and continued growing in Christ. In time, the Lord called him into the ministry and they enrolled in New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary where Chuck earned a masters and doctorate. Then, after pastoring the First Baptist Church of Richland, MS, they moved to Collierville.
From there, they are touching the world for Christ.
To paraphrase Allan Christopherson’s testimony above, “God alone knows how many hundreds of lives are now in the kingdom because of this couple.”
You touch a life and they move on and touch others. Only Heaven can keep score. Only God can trace the mustard seed beginnings into all its limbs and branches and leaves. And that’s how it should be.
Paul wrote, To me it is a very small thing that I should be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. (I Corinthians 4:3-4)
Years ago while picking cotton on our small Alabama farm, we children kept wanting to leave the work and go “weigh in,” to see how much we had gathered. Dad or an older brother would put a stop to that foolishness. “There will be a time to weigh in. But not yet. Keep at it. I’ll tell you when.”
Good advice. Now, pastor, get on with your day. Remember, God is faithful.