A friend of mine thinks that we who do ministry need to learn to “spike the ball.” When football players finally get the ball into the end zone, they don’t stand around the goal post looking depressed, grumbling to one another about how many plays they had to run, or how they fumbled the ball on first down and then let the quarterback get sacked. No! They celebrate! They give each other high fives and jump up in the air -- and spike the ball. At that moment it doesn’t matter whether or not they played flawless football. It doesn’t matter how many interceptions were thrown, or how long it took. They got the ball in the end zone and that’s the whole point of the game.
There is something I often hear among women who work in ministry. It is a conversation that begins with the sentence, “I feel like a failure.” It has surprised me to discover how widespread the feeling is. I have not merely heard it from one or two women who had a bad year or from a woman on a campus that has suffered a significant drop in numbers in their ministry. It appears to me that it is the appraisal of many women regarding their lives and ministries, no matter how outwardly successful they may be.
I have been thinking about this and trying to figure out why we often feel this way. (Is it just the women?) I’m sure there are many possible reasons. My guess, though, is that this vague feeling flows mostly from a failure to remember how the kingdom of God works. In Matthew 13:31-33, Jesus tells the following parables:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.”
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough."
These are how the kingdom most often grows: slowly and out of sight,
I think most of us long for and expect our ministry to have more “wow” factor:
- The series of weekly meetings where worship was awesome and the messages were creative, clear and compelling (move over David Platt and Rend Collective!)
- The party you pulled off that everyone is still talking about
- The unforgettable retreat
- The twenty women you personally led to faith in Christ this semester.
A lot of parties are fun, but most are not that memorable. Sometimes you only get to be one small link in a person’s journey to faith in Christ. So, be as faithful as you can with the ministry God has given you. Work hard. Pray hard. Learn from your mistakes. Accept the fact that both big retreats and small group Bible studies rarely come off without any glitches. Don’t beat yourself up over conversations that were not “perfect.” (I often labor over these articles and then don’t post them because I can’t get them just perfect.) Never forget for one moment that God is the ONLY ONE who is always faithful, perfectly insightful and, of course, wondrously creative. I wonder how you are evaluating your semester now that the end is in sight? Consider the possibility that good is sometimes good enough. Go ahead and spike the ball.