Solace For The One Man Band Syndrome
If you plan to work in Ireland or the UK then you will at some point feel like giving up, you can make amazing plans, put everything in place, put in all the effort and energy you can muster and still find what appears to be a fruitless finish. This of course could happen anywhere in the world but I tend to believe from what I have read and experienced that this is much more common in western Europe than, perhaps, anywhere else.
Whether you’re church-planting, or even revitalising a former established church, at some point you are going to find out that it’s almost like a one man band or one man show. You may, literally, have to do everything; lead the singing, opening prayer, scripture reading, sermon, receive the offering, announcements and the closing prayer – for every service. This does not include all the extra things that take up the rest of the week, I think it should go without saying that you and I would be actively trying to change that arrangement and not just holding on to things because we think only we could do it well or to a certain standard. Sadly, even through teaching and invitations for others to be involved, this tends to be normal practice, including with most of the other church activities, outreach, events, etc.
So it’s no surprise that if you and I are spinning so many plates, moving quickly from one thing to the next, without much free time or rest, that you can begin to feel very tired. Discouragement creeps in, even to the most spiritual types and you begin to feel it’s all your fault or you’re doing everything wrong. Couple that with the lack of response to outreach or events that you host and you have a recipe for disaster on your hands.
I want to encourage you with some scriptures that have really helped me personally and totally changed my outlook on ministry, I am not going to pretend these are only my own thoughts. I actually heard it on an audio recording from a leadership conference but it blessed me so much that I want to share it with you.
The letters addressed to the seven churches in the book of Revelation contain warnings and encouragement from the Lord Jesus. Although normally, I would not encourage anyone to use verses out of context, on this occasion I think it can be forgiven because it’s clear this message from Jesus to these particular churches is so helpful to the modern church today. It will turn our thinking upside down and identify that most of our worries and challenges are heart issues, not a lack of help and resources.
Some of these churches thought they were alive but were actually dead, some were neither hot nor cold.
The warnings by Jesus to these churches.
Lost first love [heart issue]
Revelation 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
-Tolerating false teaching and wicked Jezebel types:
Revelation 2:14-15 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.
Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
-Hypocrites/fake false religion:
Revelation 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
It’s a SHAM, fake news, fake Christianity as a heart issue:
Revelation 3:15-17 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Notice NOW the connection with the issues we face, we struggle and we moan about.
If only I had this or that, the big church up the road has tons of advantages! They have a better location! They have clearly a bigger bank account, no wonder they are so alive!
All of the negatives that Jesus mentioned are not about stuff, it’s matters of the heart! They allow false teaching, they allow false teachers, they have lost their love of the WORD itself! The Word told them so!
It goes back to living by faith and not by sight, we use our circumstances to judge our success! That’s not how JESUS sees us as a church, He does not look at outward success but inward, we ought not to be looking for big numbers but big changes in peoples hearts!
Revelation 2:23(b) and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
The Lord is more interested in OUR response to the circumstance, what is our faith like in a trial or testing, does it crumble, does it get back up again?
Now lets look at the encouraging things Jesus has to say to His Church, that takes a stand for Him at all costs!
Revelation 2:2-3 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
Notice what Jesus is saying, if you keep going it is seen as positive, pleasing to Jesus.
Even though things are very tough, you can put up with all that JUNK and still put your socks on in the MORNING!
Not giving up, taking all the burden, exercising the patience of a saint, hating evil in all its forms!
That’s the church and believers who will hear “well done THOU good and faithful SERVANT”
The very things we see as negatives, Jesus sees as huge positives!
-Being low in hard cash and big in tough times: Jesus LOVES IT!
Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
-He knows you and I are weak, we keep His Word and Name: Jesus LOVES IT!
Revelation 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Jesus knows we are small but loves that we continue: Jesus LOVES IT!
-True to My teachings/name
Revelation 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
Jesus LOVES IT! = When we stay holy
Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
What we can learn from this is we can be small, in church, in business, in social circles but demonstrate great faith and usefulness and please Jesus.
The secret is staying close to Jesus! – Because Jesus LOVES that!
Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
I am personally so glad that Jesus knows me inside and out, He knows my weaknesses, He knows His church has weaknesses but He still loves us, because He knows we truly love Him and keep His Word! He knows we are not doing it for fanfare but for His honour and glory.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The Church is built by Jesus, for Jesus, by His blood, it’s incredibly precious to HIM!
Be encouraged to serve Jesus in what is most likely the toughest area in the world to reach lost souls because Jesus said I am with YOU even until the very END!