This is a guest post from Katie Karras - a communications consultant in Washington, DC and proud member of St. Timothy and St. Athanasius Church in Arlington, VA. You can follow her on twitter, @KatieKarras. And if you too are interested in guest posting on my blog, please visit my Guest Post guidelines for more info.
No one wants to admit it. You don’t want to admit it. I don’t want to admit it. No one wants to admit. But it’s a fact of life and we all must face it. And that fact is this…WE ALL GET DISCOURAGED.
We feel guilty admitting it but we shouldn’t. It doesn't mean that we don’t love God or the service we’re doing. It just means that we’re human and that we sometimes get tired.
I know you are happy to serve God at church, at a non-profit, in your home, in your high-powered career, or in the line at Starbucks. I know that you don’t do it because it’s the cool thing to do or because a celebrity told you to. I know that you do it because you have experienced His “unfailing love… [and] great compassion” (Psalm 51:1) and want to demonstrate this love and compassion to others.
I know you do all these things for the glory of God, and that the opinion of others doesn't matter. But I also know that you – like me – are human and that sometimes you get discouraged. Our strength and abilities may come from God, but that doesn't mean we don’t at times need some simple encouragement from our fellow man.
“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)
So here is my good word. Listen carefully…WHAT YOU DO MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
Maybe not to everyone, but to someone. One person is touched and thankful for the verse you shared, or for the conversation you had with their kid, or for the chairs you set up on Sunday, or for the song you practiced hours to get right. Someone needed that hug Sunday morning and appreciated that sincere “I’ll pray for you.”
There are plenty of barriers preventing people from finding Christ in this world and you are tearing them down. Whether you’re up at dawn to make sure the projector is working, or up till dawn preparing for a finance meeting, you are taking your gift and “ministering it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” (1 Peter 4:8-10).
SO KEEP GOING! Do not lose heart! You are making a difference!
Sometimes… ok, a lot of the times… things don’t always go the way we planned. Hopefully you’ve realized by now that being a Christian was never meant to be glamorous. Don't hold back because of that one experience you can’t shake. St. Paul says “How shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:13-14). You are that preacher in whatever service you belong to and whatever you do in the Name of Christ.
We were warned that it would be hard – that people would mock us and criticize us, and “think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you” (1 Peter 4:4). We understand that that might come from the outside; but we cannot allow it to come from within! We can’t be the fulfillment of those words in one another’s lives – the mockers and criticizers. There are enough of those people in the world already!
It’s hard to invest your time and energy into something that we see as God’s work and receive criticism - especially from the very people that are supposed to be on our side!
Yes, I know we are told to correct one another, edify, and admonish when necessary, but I think we have that part covered pretty well. Maybe this is a “without leaving the others undone” (Matthew 23:23) type of situation. Maybe we can dial down the stirring up of self-consciousness, guilt, and ridicule, and instead “stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
At the end of the day we all know that “without [Him] you can do nothing” (John 15:15). He is the source, but sometimes we may be that one extremely frustrating Christmas light on the thread causing the others to go out due to our own insecurities or bad experiences. And – I say this with all love – WE CANNOT ALLOW THAT TO HAPPEN.
I know this concept is hard to acknowledge when we feel like our own hard work isn’t appreciated, but when we’re feeling discouraged ourselves it’s in our best interest to build each other up. Start by encouraging your brothers and sisters in whatever service they are doing knowing that “the generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself” (Proverbs 11:25).
So here I am to say "do not grow weary while doing good” (Galatians 6:9) because whether you see it or not, it is by your actions and service I am encouraged.
So keep up the good work! I appreciate you.