Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:58
I read a survey recently that found over half of American workers are unhappy with their jobs. Not just low-wage jobs either. Almost 60% of workers earning in the $50,000 to $75,000 range were unhappy. The reasons for this are pure speculation at this point. Some suggest that economic pressures compel people to stay in a job they don’t like for fear of not finding another one. However, one analyst believes that the root of dissatisfaction is when workers feel disconnected from their mission.
I suspect it’s not much different in our Christian life. We are part of a vibrant body of believers, lavishly blessed by Almighty God, and yet, in our quietest moments, I’d conjecture many of us, maybe most of us, feel a level of dissatisfaction, and I wonder if it’s not because we’ve become disconnected from our mission.
Jesus stated our mission succinctly in Matthew 28:18-20. It boils down to two things – evangelism and discipleship. We bring people to Jesus and we help them learn and grow. You may have already guessed, a satisfying mission is not the same thing as an easy one. In fact, evangelism and discipleship are anything but easy. They require investing in the lives of others. They call for energy and prayerfulness. They require grace and perseverance.
I understand the hesitation. I really do. I am a 100% introvert (Seriously. I took a test. 100%) and the thoughts of knocking on doors or striking up conversations with strangers are honestly terrifying. But asking people about their lives and letting them talk isn’t so bad. You learn their needs, their hopes, and fears. You learn how to serve with love and compassion. Building relationships with people is the first step to know how to pray for them.
Praying for people, specifically, softens our heart toward them. It deepens our compassion and we see more of God’s heart for them. It makes us more attuned to the areas where God is already at work as well. Prayer reminds us not go in our own strength or brilliance or persuasiveness, but to follow God’s lead. And be aware, that in many cases, one quick prayer isn’t enough.
If you remember, Jesus talked about how spreading the gospel was like planting a crop. You over-plant to make sure something comes up. There are long periods of time when it looks like nothing is happening. You can do a lot of work, but the results are largely out of your hands. But Paul reminds us that the only surefire way not to see results is to give up. (Galatians 6:9)
Granted, evangelism and discipleship take on many different forms and are accomplished through a host of methods, but when we lose sight of them, we falter and flounder as the body of Christ and as individual believers. Seeing people discover the overwhelming love of God in Jesus Christ, and then continue to be blown away by that reality, is the most satisfying, amazing experience apart from our own salvation. But if it is no longer our focus, our passion, our very reason for being, it is time for some re-evaluation. It is time to re-embrace our mission.