Teaching You To Become A Good Steward

Teaching You To Become A Good Steward

“I can plod.” The man who said those words was William Carey (1761-1834). Perhaps you recognize the name? He is remembered as the father of modern missions, a man who by God’s grace pioneered an awakening in the country of India. He faced severe obstacles and devastating setbacks, yet his ministry was used mightily by God. And he could plod. But is plodding—honorable as it sounds—really what we ought to be doing for God? Is it not more honorable to engage in bold advances for the Kingdom? Shouldn’t we pray for miracles and expect God to do great things? Why plod? Shouldn’t we expect great things from God? Shouldn’t we do something more than just plod?

William Carey was obviously a courageous missionary, and by all accounts, a success. But lest we adopt his plodding mantra without careful thought, let’s think about some of the negative ramifications of plodding.

Perils of Plodding

  • Plodding can result in discouragement. The dictionary definition of plodding is “slow-moving and unexciting.” To illustrate, let’s say a man is a pastor of a small church. He’s a plodder. He’s a faithful guy. But as his ministry rolls on, month after month, year after year, he realizes that not a whole lot is happening. Revivals are not forthcoming. Droves of people are not getting saved. In fact, some of the families that he thought he “put back together,” have come totally unglued. The man plods, but discouragement sets in.
  • Plodding can result in burnout. When a person pours intense labor into something for which they are not gifted, burnout will result. For example, consider a pastor whose gift is Bible exposition. He is not gifted at administration. However, his church of 200 people and lots of programs demands a great deal of administration. Soon, the pastor discovers that the lion’s share of his time is consumed by administrative details. Despite his lack of administrative skill, he tries to organize programs and oversee events. He feels like he’s banging his head against a wall. And eventually, he gives in. He is exhausted. He is fatigued. He plods. And burns out.
  • Plodding is slower than sprinting. The term “plodding” doesn’t sit well with a type A personality—the kind of person whose calendar is packed with events, whose cell phone rings constantly, whose multi-tasking skills are refined, whose email inbox is always full, whose aspirations are lofty, and whose life speed is always high. Plodding is antithetical to their nature. As they see it, plodding is antithetical to the Christian life, too. Wasn’t Jesus busy? Didn’t Paul have a packed itinerary? Didn’t the early church have services every single day? Why plod for God, when one can sprint?
  • Plodding can result in ineffectiveness. Could it be that there are plodders who are wasting their lives? Plodding may be the reason that people have such small visions. Don’t we need big visions—the kind that involve breaking down barriers, evangelizing entire countries, starting church planting movements, and igniting Christian awakenings in closed-access territories? But a plodder—one who loyally stays the course—can’t see the vast forest of opportunity for the single tree in front of him. Instead of a potentially fruitful ministry, he settles for the plodding that is in reality ineffectiveness.

These are hard words. Harsh is more like it. Isn’t this kind of writing discouraging, hurtful, and arrogant? Doesn’t it disregard the Bible’s teaching on faithfulness?


An explanation is in order. The above dangers are legitimate, but they are dangers that describe someone who is plodding without perspective. Plodding without perspective is akin to ministry suicide—discouragement, burnout, and ineffectiveness. The plodder whose perspective has vanished is someone who is so embroiled in the complexities of ministry that he fails to see the purpose behind it all. Plodding is not wrong. Plodding is what God has called us to do as ministers. But plodding without perspective is harmful indeed.

How It Strikes
The peril of plodding without perspective can happen easily. It can happen without your knowing it. Here’s how perspective dies on the plodder’s path.

  1. Plodding without perspective happens when you’re too busy. Is there any one of us, especially those of us in ministry, who is not busy? Our culture is a busy culture. A ministry life is a busy life. But busyness is a vision killer. When your mind is crowded with the next thing on your agenda, it’s virtually impossible to mentally soar to 20,000 feet and get a perspective on the big picture. This is plodding without perspective. The next thing. The next project. The next sermon. The next week. That’s not vision. That’s not perspective. And sooner or later, a ministry runs aground or you burnout. Unless we take time to think—to just stop and think—we will lose our sense of perspective. Busyness can too easily blind us to the needs, the big picture needs, of ministry.
  2. Plodding without perspective happens when you lack mission or vision. A ministry without a mission or vision is like a car with its headlights turned off driving along a curvy, unlit mountain road at night. Pretty soon, the car is going over a cliff. Mission and vision serve to illumine the road, providing direction for the future. Just having a mission or vision isn’t going to make everything better, however. That mission or vision must be kept front and center in your mind lest you lose perspective and plod along in the night on an unlit, curvy mountain path.
  3. Plodding without perspective happens when you don’t pray. Prayer is the God-given means by which you make your requests known unto God. It is invaluable for maintaining a proper perspective on ministry. It’s not just our lack of prayer that’s the problem. It’s the heart attitude behind that lack of prayer. A prayerless life is a self-centered life. It is a symptom of a person who thinks that they can do it on their own. Neglecting prayer and relying on one’s self is a tragic perspective shift—from God to self. It will ruin your ministry.
  4. Plodding without perspective happens when you don’t read your Bible. It sounds so elementary that you may be tempted to skip this paragraph. Scripture intake is crucial for setting your perspective right. Without a biblical worldview, you will have a cramped worldview—the kind that destroys perspective and wears down your ministry. Take a fresh look at what you’re reading: the storyline of the Bible, the Kingdom theme, the ministry of Jesus, the shocking story of redemption, the scandal of sin, the power of grace, the epic climax in the book of Revelation. The Bible is the source of perspective. To neglect it is to neglect everything.
  5. Plodding without perspective happens when you have no counselors. Usually, a single person is not capable of possessing the right perspective all by himself. As Proverbs teaches, counselors are necessary for safety. Often, pastors attempt to function as lone and fearless leaders. But every pastor needs a team of supporters. Without a coterie of counselors, he will become imbalanced. In other words, he will lose perspective. It’s not just that a pastor needs counselors. He needs the right kind of counselors. He needs counselors that are grounded biblically and who have the right vision for the ministry.

Plodding and Faithfulness
Although plodding without perspective is a ministry killer, plodding with perspective is a good thing. Kevin DeYoung writes of “the glory of plodding,” and describes these plodding Christians as “plodding visionaries.” Profitable plodding is plodding with perspective—with vision. There’s no good in merely being a plodder. But a plodding visionary? That requires perspective.

True plodding is in a sense the same as faithfulness. Jesus calls upon His servants to be be faithful, even if it’s faithfulness over small things (Luke 16:10). In Acts 11:23, Paul exhorted the Antioch church to “remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose.” Faithfulness, or we could call it “plodding,” doesn’t happen in a vacuum of perspective. It happens when we have “steadfast purpose.” Inherent in the word faithful is the idea of being faithful to something—not to an ideal, or to a career, or to a ministry, but to a Person. Faithfulness is grounded in a life-changing knowledge of God. Faithful plodding necessitates the right view of God.

It may be that you are the small-town pastor at a small-time church. Families are falling apart. Nobody is getting saved. Ministry is discouraging, and you don’t even have enough money to fix the leaking roof. Do you have perspective? Then be faithful. Plod away. Maybe your life has been characterized by radical vision met with realistic discouragement. Do you have perspective? Then plod on, my friend. Do you lack visible results or big numbers? If your perspective is intact, plod on. Are you a missionary whose prayer letters have no news of conversions? Cling to your perspective and plod on.

The contemporary fixation on a radical Christian life and on daring deeds really strips the romance away from faithfulness. There’s nothing radical and earth-shaking about faithfulness. But God requires faithfulness from his servants. Be faithful. Plod.

But plod with the right perspective.

How to Regain Perspective
If your plodding has degenerated into a perspective-deprived drudgery, it’s time to change things. How do you regain the right perspective?

  • Take a break. One of the hardest things to do on the roller coaster of ministry is to get off. Just as you think you might swing a leg over the edge and step onto the stable platform, you feel the roller coast jerk forward, and you hang on for dear life. It’s much easier to fall out of a roller coaster than to safely step off. Saying “take a break” to a man in the ministry may seem like saying “take a deep breath” to someone underwater. I know it’s hard, but this is important. Would you rather waste years of ministry by plodding without perspective, or get a few days behind schedule? You need to take a break and just think. It may just be a day. Ideally, it would be two or three or four days. Whatever time you can take off, just do it. Go somewhere private and think, pray, and regain your perspective.
  • Establish your ministry vision and mission. If your ministry lacks a clear vision and mission statement, it’s time to draw one up. Or, if you have a mission and vision, but they are forgotten or defunct, scrap it and start afresh. The very process of developing ministry vision is an exciting activity that quickly aligns your perspective and furnishes you with fresh power for ministry.

This article started with Carey’s quote, “I can plod.” That’s not the end of Carey’s quote. His next sentence is, “I can persevere in any definite pursuit.” Plodding by itself isn’t worth any accolades. It is only when one has a “definite pursuit,”—a faith-filled, God-given perspective on life—that he can plod, persevere, and succeed. Missionary Hudson Taylor famously summed it up: “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” That’s what plodding with perspective is all about.

Resurrection Sunday

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— (‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭2‬:‭9‬ ESV)

When you look at other religions you will find that all of their “leaders” have died and are dead. A lot of people acknowledge that Jesus died for all of our sins, but it’s important not to forget that He rose again. We serve a God that is alive and at work in the lives of each and everyone of us. We often get caught up and dwell on the things we’ve done in the past but God wants us to think about our future in Him. Anything we’ve done and could possibly do He’s already taken care of that. If we could just leave all of that behind and press on towards Jesus He has something stored up for us that we can’t even fathom. Pastor Patrick Coats said, “Christianity is not about a book of rules to live by. It’s about a loving God and savior named Jesus Christ that displayed the greatest act of love for you and me.” The joy is found in knowing that Him dying was not the end for us, when He rose He gave us the opportunity to have eternal life through Him. “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭16-17‬ ESV)

Why Me?

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭13‬:‭44-46‬ NIV)
It says in the bible that nothing can separate us from the love of God. Meaning, God is interested in us regardless of our shortcomings. You may be wondering why you, but God has a counter question. Why not you? God is in an all out passionate pursuit of you. Just as the pearl found by the merchant in the field, you are a rarity that God wants all to Himself. Don’t be dismayed by what you feel is inadequate, because He finds strength in our weaknesses. “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” (‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12‬:‭9‬ NLT)

Re-Wire (Why Series): “Why Serve?”

Ephesians 2:10 ESV For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

We are living in a world where the church has become institutionalized. We are taught that if we can just get to the church house and surround ourselves with believers that something amazing will transpire in our lives. We know that if we are to put our trust in Jesus that we can make it to heaven and be called children of God. Even with all these truths about the church, the fact still remains that people come to church to be entertained amongst other things. The question for many church attendees is no longer what can I do for the kingdom but rather what can the church do for me? However, that is not why we were called. We were both saved and created for a specific purpose and that purpose is to serve Jesus Christ. If you look at the verse Ephesians 2:10 God makes it known that we are His property and that He created us for good works. These works that He created us for have already been planned out before we were birthed onto this Earth. According to God, our place in the body of Christ, our community and even on our jobs has already been laid out. At the end of the verse He simply states that we should walk in those works that He has called us to.

Come As You Are!

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

An artist went searching the streets of New York City for a model to pose for a portrait he wanted to call — ‘The Prodigal’. One day was passing Central Park and saw an impoverished beggar lying on a bench and thought: ‘He’s perfect! That man would represent the prodigal son beautifully in my painting.’ He asked the beggar if he would be willing to sit for his painting and he would gladly pay him for his time. Naturally, the beggar agreed.

On the day and time appointed, a man knocked on the door of the artist’s small Brooklyn studio. Excitedly, he answered his door only to find a clean-shaven young man dressed in a suit and tie standing before him. Disappointed, he said, “You must have the wrong door sir, the law office is down the hall”. “But you made an appointment with me,” the man replied, “No,” said the artist, “I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you before. I made an appointment to meet with a beggar here at this hour.” “Well,” said the man, “I am the beggar.” “You?” said the artist, “You’re the beggar?” “Yes, he replied. After you left me last week, I found some money and thought I would get a new suit of clothes before you painted me.” “Oh,” replied the artist, “Well, you’re just not right for the job.”

The beggar wanted to show himself a masterpiece before the artist — but the artist wasn’t looking for that. He wanted to create the masterpiece himself! Likewise, when we come to God, we must not come in our own garments of self-righteousness. We must come before him transparent, with no inhibitions, or worries, or pride. God has already seen our weaknesses and faults. We’re not hiding anything from Him anyway.

The Master Artist has an appointment with us today. Let’s not come disguised as someone else. Let’s come as we are so that He can make a priceless masterpiece.

Walking in the Light: The Fundamental Pattern

John 1:5-9

This is the message we heard from Jesus[a] and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.

What does God want of me? What does God want of us? Probably every Christian has asked these very questions. They are asked in times of anguish, during crisis and decision making and, implicitly and explicitly, on a day-to-day basis. What does God require of those who want to offer their sincere allegiance and devotion?

The next section of 1 John (1:5–2:27) tackles this question, for the church to which John was writing debated this very issue. What does God ask of us? What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? What does it mean to be a faithful Christian? To address this issue, John uses the image of “walking in the light.” And he lays out certain expectations of those who desire to walk in the light. We can summarize these expectations briefly: imitation of God’s character (1:5-7); dependence upon the cleansing from sin provided by Jesus’ death (1:7, 9; 2:1-2); obedience to the com mands of God (2:3-6), especially the command to love (2:7-11); and steadfast resistance to the lure of the ways of the world (2:15-17) and to false teaching (2:18-27).

So, if we do all these things, are we then doing what God wants? Are we walking in the light? We cannot simply mark these things off on a checklist. For there is a unifying thread woven through the pattern of “walking in the light.” These “expectations” are unified by an under standing of God’s character and of God’s activity in Christ. Thus John begins with an assertion about God, the simple statement that God is light. Everything depends upon and flows from that statement. It is worth examining at some length.

Trust in The Lord

It’s simple. It’s short. Yet it’s incredibly powerful. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible–with good reason. It sets forth a life-changing truth that is worthy of our attention. Spend three minutes reading this article, and see if you agree.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Let’s break down this life-changing truth to make sure we understand it.


Trust in the Lord.

It starts with trust. Any real relationship has to start with some level of trust. It’s the only way a friendship will endure. It’s the only way a marriage will work out. It’s the simple reason why an employer hires workers, or why the workers stay employed. It’s all about trust. Trust in the Lord, however, takes on an entirely new dimension. This is our trust in an eternal, all-powerful, all-wise, all-loving God. He is worthy of our trust. The trust is important, not just because of who God is, but because of the way in which we must trust him: with all your heart. It involves every fiber of your being. That’s the kind of trust we can have in God–a complete, unshakable, deep, abiding trust.

If you are a Christian, you trusted God for salvation. You can trust Him with the rest of your life, too–every detail.


Read part 2, Don’t Lean On Your Understanding

Do Not Lean on Your Own Understanding

Read part 1 first, Trust In The Lord.

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.


Don’t Lean on Your Understanding

The verse involves a positive–something you must do. But it also involves a negative–something you must not do. Don’t lean on your own understanding. Basically, the verse is telling us that we ought not to be self-reliant. We cannot pursue a course of action, a financial decision, a business move, a relationship, or an educational choice, simply based on our own understanding. It must be founded in our trust in God.

Self-reliance is such a deceptive trap. We begin to pride ourselves in something–our savvy, our looks, our intellect, our spirituality, our family, whatever. And when we do, it takes away our trust in the Lord. It has become trust in self. The result is a dangerous compromise that will lead to destruction.


Instead, Acknowledge God. In Everything.

The antidote to this self-reliance is found in the first command of the verse. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Which is developed in the next verse: “In all your ways acknowledge him.” The word “acknowledge” isn’t merely a polite tip of the hat to the Man Upstairs, or a few words of grace over your meal, or even perfunctory attendance at church to let Him know we’re still cool with what He’s doing. It’s way more. It’s allowing Him access, control, command, and involvement in all your ways.

What’s the result of this? Will God ruin your life? Will he be a Sovereign Killjoy? Will He rob you of fun? The verse ends on a promise. What is it?


He will make your paths straight.

The promise is put in the form of a metaphor. What does it mean to have straight paths? Several things. First, paths lead toward an end–a destination, a goal. Thus, trusting God wholeheartedly in every area of life gives your life a sense of purpose and priority. Second, it indicates that there will be a clear understanding of where you are going and what you are doing. It makes daily decision-making an easier and less painful task. You realize you are trusting Him. He, in turn, is making your paths straight. Thus, the way ahead is more apparent. Third, “straight paths” suggests moral purity. It suggests a life that has less of sinful compromise and more of wholesome attitudes, actions, and behavior.

That’s the kind of life that God promises. It’s the kind of life that you can have. It begins with trust. It involves acknowledging God in every way.