There are times when it feels like we do tons of work and don’t see any payoff.
We held a retreat here recently called Mountain Feet Weekend. We promoted it, invited people personally, asked others to invite people, traveled, plastered it across social media and ended up with three registrations. Sometimes, for the same amount of work, we have 10 people. The same is true of Beautiful Feet Boot Camp.
Now, this can get discouraging. It can feel like all your work, effort, energy and best ideas are pointless and if that’s the case, then what am I even doing with my life?
It’s easily believed and evidenced, but it’s not the truth! Time after time, whatever happens is exactly what needed to happen.
Here’s one example…
There was a woman at the retreat this weekend who heard Gail teach in a Perspectives class two years ago and later came to a very poorly attended event here on our campus. We didn’t even know her or have any other contact with her in those two years. Last month, I went to a small missions luncheon in a city two hours from here and gave a general invitation to the group to come and invite others to the retreat. I got very little feedback at the time and figured nothing had come from it. Except that this woman had been in Gail’s Perspectives class and at some point, gotten involved in missions in her church which hosts the missions luncheon that she attended and where she picked up a postcard for the retreat. Three points of contact, all of which were invisible to us at the time.
As I was thanking her before she left on Sunday, both of us were holding back tears. Something significant had taken place for her. I don’t even know what it was specifically—it’s between she and God—but I witnessed it.
The parable of the lost sheep and the lost coin came to my mind… is it really all worth it just for that one? I believe it is. The thing is, both the sheep and the coin were a matter of status—self-worth was driving the hunt. But the next story Jesus told was of the lost son—the intrinsic value of the son was driving the father’s search of the horizon for the silhouette of his son returning home.
There’s another difference in those stories that I’d never noticed before: The first two searches which were driven by status were anxiety-ridden, but the father waited for his son expectantly but patiently. Though it must have been agonizing, he wasn’t frantic.
Each person who comes our way is eternally valuable. Each one has their own story and unique place in the world. We respect that and are honored to be here for them, whenever and however they come. The other two people in the retreat had interesting backstories and promising futures that are “blog-worthy” as well, but I just chose one, not to diminish the value of the others, just because this is the one that came out of my fingers onto the keyboard today.
This job is not about our success, it’s about the value of others. When we get that backwards, we begin to feel anxious and unsuccessful. But when we notice the Spirit’s gentle reminders of God’s work that God is doing (not us), we can relax, be present and play our part in peace and freedom. And that’s when we notice the successes. Over and over, quietly and without fail, God’s purpose is being accomplished.