Tuesday, August 03, 2010
In Praise of Plodders
The following is entry #8 from the upcoming pastor's devotional tool Shepherd's Balm by Rich Earl. The book is available by pre-order now from Kalosbooks.com
The climax of God’s redeeming grace, according to Isaiah 40:31, is found in the strength which enables men to plod. To soar like an eagle is difficult, to run like a racehorse is more difficult still, but to walk and not faint – this is the greatest feat which the power of God can enable any man to do.
Shepherds neither fly nor run. A shepherd’s work is prosaic, tedious, slow and obscure. Feeding sheep is his daily task and for this he needs neither the mettle of the racer nor the buoyancy of the eagle. He must have a genius for plodding. The clergyman who is able to trudge bravely through the years, filling the months with quiet honest work, pressing himself close upon his people and holding his people and himself close to the heart of Christ may cause little stir in the world but will make an impression which will be felt in heaven.
The farmer and preacher have need of the same patience, fidelity and pluck. The laws of the soil and the soul are inexorable and processes of growth in matter and spirit are orderly and slow. It must be hard plowing, faithful sowing, patient waiting, and skillful harvesting if the Lord of the harvest is to give a reward. A man who only prances or flies is a failure both in pulpit and field.
But this gift of plodding has not been given to all men. It is a form of genius, almost as invaluable and rare as that of the artist and poet. If a man does not possess it let them keep out of the ministry. He will be unhappy all his days and at eventide it shall be dark. The parish will be a cage against whose bars he will beat and bruise his impatient wings…repining always over imaginary races which he might have run and won.
Most of the best work done in the world is done by unnoticed toilers in obscure fields. Most of the best preaching is done in pulpits which have no halo around them in the public eye. The best sermons do not as a rule get into the papers, nor is any mention made of them by the reporters.
The most influential preachers are not those most talked about but those whose words go deepest into the consciences and hearts of men. The church can afford a few eagles and racehorses of a nobler sort, but after all the solid and enduring work must be done largely by the plodders. My friend, if you’re capable of walking without fainting, thank God and take courage. You are a person of gifts, and have in yourself indubitable evidence of the presence and favor of the Almighty. Others may astonish the nation by flying over every celebration, but at the end of the day you, having some precious seed, will come home rejoicing bringing your sheaves with you.
Charles Edward Jefferson, Quiet Hints to Growing Preachers, pp. 199-206
Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all.
1 Timothy 4:14-15 (NKJV)