Have you ever noticed that a pro baseball player often has his best year just before he becomes a free agent? Also, have you noticed that they often have one of their worst years just after they have signed a huge contract?Have you ever noticed how beautiful a bride is on her wedding day, but also how soon she gets comfortable around her husband and begins to wear jeans with holes in them?When things happen, we can know that some of the fire has gone out of their hearts. Success or fashion is just not as important as it once was.
The same can happen in our lives. We get comfortable with how things are and we lose our edge. And we begin to lose our heart for the world.
Man asked during a church budget committee meeting. “What’s this Cooperative Program thing? When are we going to finally pay it off?” He went on to ask, “And how long are we going to keep supporting these women Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong? Don’t they have Social Security or some relatives to help them out?The Bible tells us that “we are workers together with God” and we are to be “On Mission with God” also. Where does this mission happen? What kind of mission is it?
In 1989 a devastating earthquake occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area. During the 5:00 p.m. rush hour, a large portion of a freeway collapsed, trapping or killing hundreds of people. The World Series baseball game at Candlestick Park was stopped. Emergency personnel worked frantically to rescue any victims who might have survived the quake.Several days later, a newspaper reporter located a young man who had worked with rescuers in the attempt to find survivors. He was dirty; his clothes were torn. When asked to comment on what he had seen and experienced during the past three days, he told several stories and concluded with the remark that, “All the sacrifice and effort was worth it if we found just one person alive!”We are on a rescue mission! We are here to reconcile man with God.
The problem is that the cost is high.
[Editor’s note: Donor fatigue is a phenomenon in which people no longer give to charities, although they have donated in the past. The most benign cause of donor fatigue is simply budget exhaustion. Many people who engage in charitable giving set aside a specific budget every year for this purpose. When the budget runs out, they are no longer able to donate. Events like natural disasters can wipe out the donation budget of a charitable household, as was the case in 2005 when people donated to victims of Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Rita followed hard on Katrina’s heels. Donors wanted to help, but they did not have the financial wherewithal to do so.]
Deacon said, “Well, you know, people never really change . . . “
Difference between “relief” and “development”To prevent spiritual “donor fatigue” we must keep our heart for the World!
We must understand the pain God has.
Matthew 23:37 says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!”Mathew 9:35-36 says, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”Romans 9:1-3 says, “I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh.”
A woman was passionately involved with a group that assisted teenagers who were addicted to drugs. She spent her own money and time to help these troubled teens. When someone asked her why she gave herself whole heartedly to such a difficult ministry, the woman gave this reply:“When my daughter died from a drug overdose, I thought I would never get over it. I tried to avoid other people; I was ashamed of my daughter’s actions and the shame it brought our family. Finally, I determined that the best way for me to deal with my feelings was to do something to help other teenagers trapped in drug abuse. A pain in my heart that never goes away keeps me working with these kids.”
We must understand the desire God has.
Romans 10:1 says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
A prominent pastor was considered to be one of the finest preachers ever graduated from his seminary. He and his wife bought a fine home in the lovely subdivision surrounding their church. They entertained church people constantly. The pastor’s name was mentioned frequently as the leading candidate for the presidency of his denomination. Everything looked promising for this diligent pastor.However, under the surface, ego and vanity were the rudders steering the ship in this man’s life. The fame, recognition, and comfort that he enjoyed represented the passion of his life rather than the desire to see people some to know Christ as Savior. After a few years, this pastor resigned from his pulpit and decided to pursue a job in another field.
We must understand the love God has.
2 Corinthians 5:10-11 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says: For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
One Christian laywoman described a time when she felt that Christ’s love literally pushed her into ministry: “I was parking my car at the post office when I noticed a vehicle stalled in another portion of the parking lot. The stalled car was blocking traffic. An elderly woman stood outside the car, looking panicked. Although I was rushing to get back to my office, I felt the Holy Spirit moving me to assist the woman. I asked her if I could help.She seemed grateful that someone has stopped to notice her plight. She asked if I could call her supervisor and explain that she would be late and also call the mechanic who usually works on her car. I flagged down two other post office customers to push the car away from traffic. I insisted that the woman wait inside the post office out of the heat. I drove to my business, a few minutes away, and made the calls as she requested.Then I returned to report to the woman that help was on the way. She thanked me profusely and offered to pay me for my sacrifice of time. I replied that no payment was necessary and said that I had done what I had because of the love of Christ in my heart. She replied, “Thank you for showing love to an old Jewish lady.” I was thankful that Christ’s love nudged me beyond my comfort zone so that I had no choice but to help.
We must understand the insight God has.
Matthew 9:36 says, “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.”Matthew 15:32 says, Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, “I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.”
A young man got in trouble and while that is not unusual, the response of his Quaker church family is. The young man had stolen a car and had been caught red-handed. The elders of his church met, and the serious situation was presented by one of the men. Their immediate response was, “Where did we go wrong? How have we failed this boy, allowing him to get into this kind of trouble?” Their first thoughts were not of blame, criticism, or even punishment. Because they loved him and were concerned about him spiritually, they demonstrated compassion for him in his crisis. When Jesus looked on the multitudes, He saw them lacking a shepherd. They needed someone to care for them, to guide them, to protect them. Today in your ministry, people are in the same condition. When you keep your heart for the world, you can reach out and minister to a helpless world with a heart of compassion.
We must understand the heart God has.
John 17:26 says, “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
A struggling, new congregation met in a day-care center while members considered where to locate permanently. The manager of the day-care center resented the church people and constantly complained about their lack of care of the building, even though her concerns could not be documented. Finally she called the pastor and ordered the church to move out. On the church’s last Sunday in the center, the pastor asked the center manager to attend the morning worship service. During the service, he effusively thanked her for providing the space for the church during the months it had met there. He had a special plaque made to honor her, offered a donation to the center, and led a prayer asking the Lord to continue to bless her and her business. Instead of responding angrily about being evicted, the pastor surrounded the complaining woman with kindness. He operated with a heart like Jesus.
Do we have a heart like this?
We must guard our hearts if we are to be of use to God in building His Kingdom on this Earth!Much of this material was adapted from a book entitled, Keeping Your Heart for Ministry, by Michael D. Miller.
Otis is currently the DOM of Covington Association. Previously he has served as a State Missionary in Chaplaincy and Church Planting for the Alabama Baptist SBOM.
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