Charles Spurgeon and David Martyn Lloyd-Jones—these names, for most preachers, bring to mind ministries that continue to bear fruit, even in 2011. Spurgeon’s sermons still encourage readers to a warmer and deeper love for Christ. MLJ’s sermons challenge all of us to see the importance of proper doctrine balanced with the empowering of the Holy Spirit. God has used, and I believe will continue to use, these men to influence generations of preachers.
Reality, however, dictates that most pastors, even those famous at the time of this post, will fade into the obscurity of church history. Like David, each pastor serves “the purpose of God in his own generation (Acts 13:36, ESV).” Even today’s giants will fade.
So what does this mean for those called to shepherd the local church? It means we need to keep things in perspective.
God has called us to prayer and the ministry of the Word. We must fulfill this calling with integrity and perseverance.
But, think of this scenario. Suppose you pastor a church for 25 years and during that time the church experiences explosive growth. You are privileged to see people saved and lives changed. You love the people and they love you. When it comes time to retire, the church celebrates your ministry and shows you how much you mean to them.
The very next Sunday, anyone who visits that same church for the first time will have no idea about your ministry. They will never know you, and only seven days have passed.
A humbling thought, isn’t it?
Our ministries will touch the lives of more people than we can possibly imagine. God has given us the privilege to preach His word and to minister to those He puts in our path. Let’s keep our heads the right size, though. God may make giants out of some of us, but most likely He just wants us to be faithful. We will fade away. Others will pastor our churches. And that’s just fine with me.