Freely you have received, freely give. ~ Matthew 10:8b
READING: I Corinthians 3:1-9
I’ll never forget the comment that someone on the search committee made just before we moved out to California to plant our first church: “Pastoring a church in California is like preaching to a parade.” Boy,he was right! Californians are truly a mobile bunch. It’s not uncommon for people to move every three years, and that doesn’t even count the mandated transfers for our Navy families here in San Diego.
This extreme mobility has been a mixed blessing for us as church planters. People in transition are generally more open to try out a new church plant, so newcomers usually made up the bigger percentage of our congregations. Their temporary receptivity led to their eternal salvation. Plus, they felt more motivated to immediately seize upon any offer of mentoring. On the other hand, it complicated the business of training up leadership or of allowing enough time for potential leaders to prove themselves.
It soon became apparent that we had to give up any expectation that we would necessarily enjoy the fruits of our labors. Time after time we have waved goodbye to our best graduates. Occasionally we hear good reports back of someone’s effective ministry within another church and of persevering faith in Christ. But typically we don’t know what happened after they moved away.
Mentoring requires of us just such a generosity of spirit, a willingness to give our best, whether or not we see the results. Our particular mission field has been a parade of people, rootless, fatherless, hungry for stability, who wander within our range only briefly. It pleases God when we mentor well, even briefly, those who cross our path.
Dear Father, I miss the people who have moved away. Please bless them and keep them strong. I pray that they will give You pleasure wherever they go. Amen.
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