The Good You Do
As part of my daily reading this morning, I happened upon a short testimonial by a pastor, who declared that Mondays "were the worst."
This pastor confessed that on Mondays, he would wonder how his sermon had been received, what he could have done better, how the worship service could have been improved, etc. Then he would move on to whether anything he had done had made any difference at all.
"The tricky part," he declared, "is that more often than not, the results of our efforts are not visible."
I have to admit, there are some Mondays when I find myself wondering the same things as that pastor. And while most of it is a desire on my part to develop better skills, sometimes self-doubt creeps its way into the mix.
But then again, pastors don't have a corner on the market on wondering whether their efforts to do good and change lives are having an effect or not. All of us deal with this to some extent.
Let's face it, much of the good that we do in the world goes unnoticed by human eyes, and if our only motivation for doing good is the affirmation of others, we'll soon find ourselves frustrated then, discouraged and ultimately fatigued.
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul spoke encouragement to first-century Christians struggling with the same issue. He wrote:
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."There's a beautiful poem by Wendell Barry entitled "Sabbaths" that echoes Paul's admonition.
Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
And yet no leaf or grain is filledMay you surrender the outcomes of the good you do today. May you give freely of yourself and your gifts without expectations of return. May you trust that the Lord of the Harvest will cover your efforts with his glory and goodness.
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.