Writing and preaching have at least one thing in common. Unpredictability. I’ve prepared sermons thinking that it’ll be one that might generate a decent amount of response. Then I preach it…crickets. Same thing happens with articles I write. I’ll put tons of effort into an article…crickets. I’ll just throw something up and the next thing I know it’s getting tons of traffic and shares.
I suppose another thing preaching and writing has in common is that neither are ultimately about response. The Christian preacher and the Christian writers chief aim is faithfulness. We want to be helpful to as many people as the Lord allows—but we also shouldn’t pursue a bigger platform than what the Lord has equipped us for.
I say that, but I’ll confess it can be discouraging at times to labor and labor with little response. There are Mondays when I question everything. In some of the darker times I question whether I’m called to preach or called to write. I think about shutting it all down. And I’m also realistic enough to know that I could shut down my preaching and my writing ministry and within not much time at all it’d be a non-event. I say that not depressively but truthfully. The kingdom doesn’t need me.
But I still write. And I still preach. I do this because it’s what I’m supposed to be doing today. I’m a slave of Christ. I’m not a slave to public opinion, to performance polls or to how much traffic is generated.
My model in this is Paul. He knew what it was like to be at the lowest points and the highest points. He knew what it was like to abound and what it was like to be in need. I’d say if he was a writer he’d say he knows what it’s like to be heard and to be ignored. In fact, Paul actually did have a few letters that we know didn’t make the cut.
Colossians 4:16 mentions a letter that Paul wrote to the church at Laodicea. It’s gone. The same with a couple of his letters to the Corinthians. Gone. Never to be read again. They might have made an impact in the moment, they might even have ripple effects into our day, but they are lost. They’ll never get that credit. When the Spirit compiled the New Testament, those letters which Paul labored over didn’t get the same play as his letter to the Colossians. They didn’t make the cut.
And I bet he is OK with that.
I doubt Paul is frowning in the presence of Jesus. I doubt he is sweating his discarded letter to the Laodiceans. Can you see Paul pouting because his platform could have been just a little bigger? Or if Paul did write Hebrews (which is doubtful) can you imagine him angered that some people, like Luke or Apollos, have gotten credit which belonged to him?
Paul was a slave. Slaves don’t care much about platform. They’ll stand on whatever sized soapbox the King gives them. No matter if that platform is a few rotting boards used as steps to the gallows or if it’s the largest stage in the biggest auditorium.
I’m not praying that the Lord will increase my borders. I’m just praying that He will find me a faithful slave.
This article originally appeared here.