Let me share something real with you. Recently I preached a sermon that left me feeling like I don’t know how to preach. I felt like a failure. I’ll get to this in a moment, but first, let me share what led to this.
We just had a weekend revival at our church that was incredible. We had 43 people attend the first service on Friday night. Though this is an insignificant amount of people to many churches, it’s not to ours.
Considering that for the first year our average Sunday morning services was about 10 people, to have 43 people show up on a Friday night is fantastic. Our church has only existed for two and a half years at this point. So this is big growth for us!
Our church has been growing steadily. There have been times of increase and decrease, but overall we have seen an increase in attendance.
I’m sure some churches have grown a lot faster than ours, and some slower. In America today most churches are declining in membership. Many are just trying to hold on to their existing members in order to prevent closing their doors permanently.
I’m excited to pastor a church that is growing. Whether we are growing by 1’s and 2’s or by 10’s and 20’s, growth in any church right now is going against the norm.
We have seen growth- but not yet at the rate, I am believing God for.
Sometimes it’s difficult not to compare our church to others.
This can definitely become a trap to discourage you. Being aware of what others are doing in your field can be healthy. We should be inspired by those that are further along. Yet don’t allow yourself to look at somebody that is ahead of you and get discouraged because you aren’t there.
This is a temptation that we should avoid even in our personal lives. Don’t allow yourself to get discouraged when other people are seemingly achieving more than you.
You might just be in a season of preparation to be able to handle the growth you’re about to experience.
Instead- we should bless, pray for, and encourage those people. Just as God has brought increase into their lives, He can do it in ours. In order for that to happen- our hearts must be pure. Jealousy in your heart is just as much of a sin as lust.
Maybe you aren’t where you want to be at in your life, your ministry, your business, or your career. As long as you are working hard- as Paul says “pressing toward the mark”, then be content with where you are at. Yes, you should continue to strive for more, but don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t there yet. As you prove yourself faithful, God will increase you.
Jesus shared the parable of the talents, and one of the keys he gave was this: if you will be faithful with little- He will make you ruler over much. Of course, many people would rather start out being a ruler over much, but that’s not always how it happens.
So our church has been growing. The weekend revival was amazing. Many lives were touched and changed by the glory of God.
This is when the problem happened. Being so thrilled with the results of the Revival- I went into a spiritual coast Monday-Wednesday. Preaching Wednesday night felt like one of my first sermons; by the time I was finished, I just wanted to run for the door.
Maybe it wasn’t that bad- but that’s how I felt.
In spite of my poor performance, the Lord still used that message to speak to some people. I know this because they told me so.
This same thing happened often when I first started the church. I would preach and feel on the inside like a total failure. Following the service, somebody would come up to me and share how the Lord was speaking to them through that sermon on a particular issue that they were dealing with.
I think that sometimes God uses us in spite of ourselves.
This cannot become an excuse to accept poor performance.
My failure came because I changed from being in a spiritual “high gear” over the weekend to being in cruise control over the days following.
What did I learn from this? Rather than allowing success to lull me into a slower and more comfortable pace, I should have used it as a boost to go even harder after the things of God.
Is one night of mediocre preaching the end of my ministry? Absolutely not. In fact- though I was discouraged after the service, it put a “fire under my tail” to work even harder for the remainder of the week.
Never allow a temporary setback to stop you. Instead- allow it to motivate you to shift into high gear.