When full time ministry is completed; when the days of praying, preaching, planning, organizing, and equipping the saints are wrapped up, what matters?
What affirms and assures the years were well spent?
What lasts beyond our days?
The Apostle Paul answered those questions with two statements.“For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.” (1 Thess. 2:19-20 NIV).
“But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord” (1 Thess. 3:6-8 NIV).
The measure of effective ministry is not found in noise, numbers and nickels.
It is not the not television broadcasts, best-selling books, the size of the worship facilities or even the number of people attending our morning worship celebrations.
The true measure of effective ministry is found in those who have heard and received the Word of God and allowed the transforming power of the Holy Spirit to work.
“And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.” (1 Thess. 2:13 NIV).
Effective ministry flows out of the selfless life of a man or woman who heard the call of God and chose to follow no matter the cost or sacrifice.
“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.” (1 Thess. 2:1-3 NIV).
Knowing, without question, God has entrusted them with the Word of God, they live humbly with integrity and purity; consistently avoiding the ambition of personal gain, position, titles, wealth or pleasing men.
“For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed-God is our witness. We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.” (1 Thess. 2:3-6 NIV).
Without second thought they lay down their life giving compassionate care and service to their spiritual children.
“We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.” (1 Thess. 2:7-9 NIV).
This is the reward and the affirmation of a life well-lived and a ministry selflessly given.
“You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”(1 Thess. 2:10-12 NIV).