We are living in a day when people obviously don’t have enough to do. This has to be the case because of all the blogs and articles people are writing trying to badger, beat up, and destroy other people. If they had something worthwhile to do, they wouldn’t have time to spend trying to destroy somebody else. The sad thing is that Preachers, Christians, and Religious Leaders are the ones doing most of the writing–and because of their influence, their actions are enticing others to join in the fray. I guess this would be okay if all of our communities had been won to Jesus and everybody in our towns had already been discipled. If that was the case, then maybe we could justify our actions, because we wouldn’t have anything left to do. But, when I look around my town and my community, I see thousands of people that need Jesus. I see people everywhere that are hurting and struggling to survive. Everywhere I look, I see people that need to be discipled. I see people in every corner of my county that need a Pastor and a friend. They need a Church, a family, a friend, who not only cares, but is willing to get involved in their lives and bring them the help they need. Now, I realize that doing these things are not near as popular as pointing fingers and poking fun at others, while trying to prove them wrong, and us right. I understand that making a difference requires a whole lot more work than just making a judgement. Yes, everybody has an opinion, and it seems we all “feel led” to share ours when others begin sharing theirs. But, I’m challenging every Preacher, every Christian, and every Church, to cut out the nonsense, and let’s go “Make A Difference Anyway!”
During my 20 years of Pastoring the same Church in the same town, I have made more mistakes than I care to admit. One of the biggest mistakes–and one of the hardest to overcome–was allowing myself to become distracted from the primary mission and focusing my attention on things that really didn’t matter. Things like comparing myself and my ministry to other people and their ministries. Allowing an internal competition to emerge, thus turning my energy towards being bigger and better than anybody else. Like King Saul, my attention turned to David instead of the Philistines. Over time, I realized the error of my way and refocused myself on the mission God originally gave me. Surprisingly, God is still using us and helping us make a difference anyway.
Here are five lessons I have learned that freed me up to “Make A Difference Anyway”:
1. I have to answer for me: My personality and my nature is to be judgmental and critical. I naturally look at others and think, “Why did they do that?”; “That’s not how it should be done!” I had to learn that God is holding me accountable for me. I have to answer for me, not “Pastor So and So”. It’s not my job to try and straighten them out. It’s my job to keep me straight–and that’s a full-time job! Jesus taught Peter this lesson during a private conversation on the beach. “So Peter seeing him (The Beloved John) said to Jesus, Lord, and what about this man? Jesus said to him, If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:21-22). The Lesson? “Take care of your business and quit worrying about him!” Learn the lesson and go make a difference anyway!
2. I do not have to always be right: Most people do not like to be wrong. Not only do we want to be right, we want everybody to know we’re right! Truthfully, in our own ability, none of us are right. Paul reminded us of this in his letter to the Romans (Read Romans 3:10-18). Were it not for the grace and mercy of The Lord Jesus Christ, we would never be right. I had to learn that I will never preach the “perfect sermon”–and neither will you. There will always be someone who will pick it apart and find sources to justify their reasoning. There have been times that I wished I could take back something I said or did. The same goes for others, too. If I can remember this, then I can dismiss myself from being a watchdog over other Pastors and Ministries. In Jesus’ parable concerning the tares among the wheat, the servants felt the need to snatch the tares, planted by their enemy, out of the wheat fields. Jesus responded by saying, “No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together…” (Matthew 13:29-30 NASB). The Lesson? “You may be right, but it’s not your job to prove it”. Let Jesus, and time, determine this. Just keep making a difference anyway.
3. I do not have all the answers: There was a time when I felt that it was my duty to be “The Answer Man.” I thought that it was my job to know it all. However, my personality is naturally allergic to “know it all’s”. They get on my nerves! When I see them coming, I want to run the other way! First of all, none of us know it all, nor have all the answers. So, we should quit acting as we do. I have learned that it feels really good to be able to say, “I don’t know!” In many cases, even when I think I know or have an opinion, it is still better to say, “I don’t know.” Truthfully, especially when dealing with other people, there is always a bigger picture than what you know or see. The Lesson? “When you look at things, and people, and judge them at face value, you will often be proved wrong, and eventually the judgment that you dish out to them, will come back on you!” Resign as a “know it all” and go make a difference anyway!
4. I am responsible for my gifts and my calling: All of us have been called by God in some way and have been given gifts to match the calling God has placed on our lives. It is not my place to judge your calling, neither is it your place to judge mine. I am responsible for my gifts and calling, and you are responsible for yours. One of the greatest mistakes we make in the body of Christ is bashing each other’s gifts and calling, in the Name of The Lord! Our callings are different, and so are our gifts. The Lesson? “It is not my place to judge you because your gifts and calling are different than mine, or because they are expressed in a manner different than what I’m used to–or agree with!” I am responsible to God for my gifts and calling. I am not responsible for yours. It’s easy to sit in the stands and become opinionated and judgmental. Resist that temptation, and when others get on that bandwagon, refuse to ride that train. Develop your gifts. Fulfill your calling. You will find that you don’t have time to bash somebody else–just go make a difference anyway!
The harvest is ripe. The Laborers are few. I honestly believe the main reason the Laborers are few is because many of them are to busy focusing on things that don’t matter. Let’s quit wasting time fussing over who’s doing it right and who’s doing it wrong. Just get busy doing it and let God sort it out! Just go “Make A Difference Anyway!”