Faithful or Fickle?
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness.”- Matthew 25:23
This fall I am celebrating my thirtieth year of labor and ministry being on a church staff. Over those three decades I have served at just two churches (17 years at The Church On The Way and 13 years at Shepherd’s House). Both tenures hold many memories, special friendships, key lessons, and amazing victories! In these thirty years I have also suffered disappointment, hurt and betrayal. But I have learned and am learning that the LORD has called me to stay connected through it all.
The fact that I have stayed planted in places for so long is a testament to God’s transformative work in my life, because FAITHFULNESS was not a part of my pre-Jesus story. I had 4-6 jobs in a two-year period following high school. My revolving door of employment had everything to do with me being fickle, finding reasons why each job was the wrong fit and not worth my effort.
It was only when I chose to put Jesus first and live out my beliefs, that I began to take the idea of faithfulness and commitment seriously. The more I read the Bible the more I saw how God calls us to a way of living that is worlds apart from our former lives and today’s cultural norms. The Lord calls us to things like holiness; service; love; forgiveness; good works; and faithful commitment.
2 Chronicles 16:9- “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those who are fully committed to Him.”
1 Corinthians 4:2- “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must be found faithful.”
Commitment is not a word people adapt to or apply very easily. Rather than focusing on the most common places we see the breakdown of commitment: marriage; home; school; work; and even church, I want to share three reasons people fail to follow through.
1) It’s DIFFICULT: You have heard the saying, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.” Things like marriage, parenting, earning a degree, and going to work is challenging. There can be a ton of labor, sweat and tears without seeing a big payoff or evidence of any change taking place. One of the saddest meetings I had (as a youth pastor) was sitting with a man who basically said he was leaving his wife and kids because he wanted to have more fun and less responsibilities/pressure. Faithfulness will require us to get past our selfish desires and our unrealistic expectations.
2) It’s not a PRIORITY/VALUE: In Matthew 6:21 Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Many people will declare that something is important to them, but ultimately what they do, how they order their life, will reveal their priorities. Our beloved Pastor Scott Bauer would say, “Show me your checkbook and I’ll show you your priorities.” I would add to that, “Show me your calendar and I’ll show you your priorities.” Ultimately, we will invest and make time for what we value. When we discover what the Bible says about how we order our finances, prioritize our time in fellowship and service, and His high value of being connected, our lives should reflect a greater investment and commitment to those things.
3) It not what we LEARNED growing up. Many of us have grown up in broken families. It was in the home where our habits, communication techniques, coping mechanisms, trust and relational skills were formed (the good, the bad and the ugly). A person’s upbringing often effects how connected with or isolated they are from other people. It wasn’t until I was a married, through my wife’s help, that I learned it was proper to send a “thank you” card when receiving a gift or an RSVP when receiving an invitation.
Faithfulness is not just difficult to accomplish; it is utterly impossible apart from the gift of faith and the person of the Holy Spirit at work in us. May the Holy Spirit give us the wisdom and strength to be aware of and address our commitment issues May we be able to utter the same words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” May we, by His grace, be able to move pass the disappointments and hurt so we can hold fast to His ways, His work, His hope and His promises.