We live in a world of fast food, instant communication, and immediate results. Life moves at such a fast pace. We look to do everything more efficiently and effectively. We are so accustomed to seeing results NOW. It is so amazing what we can accomplish today with the advancements of technology.
This blog in itself is a modern miracle of technology. It offers me a platform that was unthinkable just ten years ago. I am a pastor of a tiny little church in New Jersey and yet have a global audience. We have a mailing list of 15,000 people and thousands of hits on the website every day. I stand in amazement at all of this. It brings me great joy to hear from so many of you from all over the United States and around the world about how these words have touched you. Thank you for being part of the Greater Things Community.
Because of the success of this blog, I have had the opportunity to speak several times about using technology in the church. The question that is almost always asked: "how did you do it?" When people ask that question, they are often looking for an easy answer that they can quickly implement. While the actual answer is rather simple, it is not quickly implemented.
The answer is one word: commitment. When I first became a senior pastor, I made a commitment to send a weekly email to the members of my church. I believed that it would be a way to help connect the church members with their faith during the middle of the week. I believed God was affording us an opportunity to make a deeper impact in the lives of his people beyond Sunday morning. So I began sending the emails, and I sent those emails for years.
I had a busy schedule, and it was not always easy to write those emails. There was the constant temptation to let other priorities take center stage. There were times when I questioned the value of sending the emails. I questioned if anyone was even reading them. I wondered if they were worth my time. But I kept writing.
A lot changed over the years. I changed how I sent the emails. I changed how I posted the emails. I changed how I shared the emails. Sometimes there were lessons to be learned about technology. Sometimes there were lessons to be learned about writing. Sometimes there were lessons to be learned about myself. I read books. I read blogs. I listen to podcasts. All this was an effort to improve at something I believed in (but not without doubt).
In the spring of 2014, one of the emails I wrote went viral on the Internet. Many of you are reading this because of that post called 20 Things to Give up for Lent. According to Google Analytics, we had more than a million people come to our church website in less than two days. What I recognize was God made that happen, but it was no accident. He was simply making use of the commitment that I had made years before.
Because of the years of preparation I knew what to do at that moment. I was able to put up a daily email list sign up that led to the creation of 40 Things to Give up for Lent. That in turn led to publishing the series in a book and having it sell as a #1 best-seller on Amazon in Christian Devotions. If the post would have gone viral years earlier, the moment would have come and went.
Success does not often happen overnight. And when it does happen overnight, it is rarely sustainable. There are many one-hit wonders in this world because they are not prepared for the success they find.
The lesson here is if you have a calling in your life from God, keep at it. Don’t give up. There will be bumps in the road along the way. There will be times of doubt. There will be lessons to learn. God is refining you through the process. Listen for his gentle voice.
I leave you with the words of Jesus. He says:
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 (ESV)
The sense of this verse in the original language is even stronger. The idea is “Keep on” seeking. God will certainly do amazing things miraculously in a moment. But the greatest miracles often happen over time. God does not call us to success, but to faithfulness. Many times faithfulness will take you through the desert before you arrive at the Promised Land. But know that for those who remain faithful, there is always a Promised Land that awaits.
Questions for Reflection
- What commitment is God calling you to make?
- What is the biggest challenge to that commitment?
- What gives you the courage to remain faithful to your commitments?
- Share your comments.