This afternoon I’m sitting behind Roy. He is the pastor of a small church in a small town. Today we are at an annual conference we both attend. Roy is now in his sixties and he is winding down his ministry journey. Sitting directly behind him I notice the back of Roy’s head; he appears to be in need of a haircut. I’ve noticed that, as I age, my hairline recedes and hair sprouts from new places elsewhere on my head. I have come to the conclusion that maturing men don’t actually lose their hair; it simply migrates back into the scalp to later reappear in the regions of the ears and nostrils. Roy’s hair seems to have been doing a lot of migrating lately. I suffer from the same fate.
I know Roy because my first year at this retreat I was his roommate. I was randomly placed with Roy in a two-bed room. Roy was in his late forties; me in my late twenties. I was new to this Pastoring thing but had big aspirations. While rooming with Roy for a few days I learned that his ministry was not going well. Being young and wet-behind-the-ears I kind of looked down at Roy. I thought I knew the solutions to his Pastoral struggles. All he needed to do was this or that and things would improve. If I were at his church I could get it to grow.
Today, as I sit behind him, I’m reminded of the words he has shared over the last few years as we’ve prayed together at this retreat. In fact his words have been difficult to get out of my mind. For the last two years, when I have spoken with him, he has declared with a sense of sadness, ‘I’m asking God to show me where I’ve made a difference.’ After all these years in ministry he is wondering if there is any fruit for his toil and faithfulness. Can you sense the sorrow in those words? ‘Have I made a difference?’ ‘Where is the evidence of my toil and labor?’ My heart aches because I don’t seem to have any real answers to his deep questions.
I’m reminded or Hebrews 6:10; ‘For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.’ Read this verse again slowly… God will not forget your work and love shown… What a wonderful promise. What a wonderful Lord. The work we do in His name and for His people, and the love continue to show them, will NEVER be forgotten by our God. He will record them in His book. He will reward His servants for their faithfulness. God never forgets.
Over the years I have come to admire Roy. He is a gentle and faithful Pastor. His church is lucky to have him. I believe God is going to richly reward Roy for his acts of love to the saints in his church. I too have experienced both ups and downs in my vocation as a Pastor; some are a result of my choices, some the result of the choices of others. The downs are difficult and the ups are fulfilling. But God is not a forgetful being. His memory is long and detailed. His rewards are generous. I want to emulate Roy’s faithfulness.
Maybe you’ve been serving God faithfully; You’ve been a faithful spouse or parent; maybe a faithful employee or boss; maybe a faithful friend or neighbor. You’ve been hanging in there for His glory and kingdom. Maybe today, like Roy, you’re wondering when the good stuff will become evident, when will the fruit be revealed? Honestly, I don’t have an answer to that question. But I know for a fact that God is watching your good works and He notices the love you’re showing. He has a keen eye and a sharp pencil with which to record all your good works.
Hang tough, keep fighting the good fight. Keep loving; keep working and serving. For our God never forgets. He sees Roy. He sees way beyond haircuts and whiskers. He sees Roy’s labor of love to his people. And God Never Forgets!
I love being your Pastor! See you on Sunday.