I regularly receive notices of ministers who have served the church for decades but reach the end of their lives and die. As I read of such men I often wonder who they are and how many lives they impacted for the sake of Christ and his gospel. In the present, many in the church laud the celebrity pastor, but for every mega-church pastor or theologian, there are hundreds if not thousands of faithful pastors quietly and humbly serving Christ.
One of my friends recently recounted the impression that one such minister made in his life. The methods were seemingly mundane and ordinary—teaching Bible classes, conversing about things in the Bible, and spending time with him. In the eyes of the world and even many in the church, this activity might be deemed boring. There was no flashy YouTube video, no conference hall filled with scores of people, no Power Point presentation, or no book written. Yet, the influence on my friend was important. Paul’s imagery from 1 Corinthians comes to mind—someone planted the seed and this minister watered it along with others and God poured out the waters of his grace to ensure that the seed would sprout, grow, and yield the fruit of the new creation in the life of one young man (1 Cor. 3:6). Indeed, who wouldn’t deem it a miracle if someone was able to grow a fruit tree in the midst of a barren desert wasteland, yet this is exactly what God did through the labors of this minister and others.
To borrow some language from Tolkien, some people believe that Christ only advances his kingdom through the exercise of great power and manifestations of the spectacular, but that is not what I’ve found. I find that it is the seemingly very small deeds of ordinary ministers of the gospel and others that push the darkness back—small acts of kindness, love, and biblical instruction. These apparently insignificant acts, I believe, constitute the lion’s share of how Christ builds his kingdom—small act by small act, brick by brick, as the church shines forth the glory of our triune God. Don’t let these unsung heroes continue to labor in the shadows. Shine the light of thanksgiving upon these people in your life—your pastor, elders, parents, children, friends, and colleagues—thank them for pointing you to Christ in large and small ways. Give thanks to our triune God for the blessing that these people are to you and many others.