As Christians, we are often afraid to step out or move in a new direction; afraid that we are giving up or walking away from something God “called” us to at some point. If we decide we need a new challenge or want to move into something entirely new, we can feel very stuck, like we are walking away from God’s will for us. It can even feel like we’re being unfaithful.
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By Sue Brage
I once worked in an organization whose employees had a reputation for becoming “lifers.” Many had served more than 20 years and some as long as 40! While I was there, I often wondered if I would be a lifer. As I pondered this, I realized the answer was and still is: Only IF God wants me to stay.
This raises the question of what it means to be faithful. Often, we confuse being faithful with staying in one place forever.
The ability to persevere is admirable; the inability to continue moving forward and embrace new seasons and new frontiers in life is not.
Sometimes we admire someone’s faithfulness, when in reality they are mostly fearful of letting go and taking a step toward something new. How can we tell if we are acting out of faithfulness or fear? Here are three things to consider:
1) Faithfulness should be grounded in faith. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Faithfulness believes that God is going to do something as a result of our efforts. If we have lost this expectation, it could be we are holding on to what God did in the past, not looking forward to what he wants to do today and in the future. If somehow we believe the best is behind us, we may need to ask ourselves, am I remaining faithful for the right reasons?
2) Faithfulness should produce fruit. If we are persevering in faith, we should see new crops and fresh growth in everything we do. Psalm 1 says we: “will bring forth its fruit in its season, leaf also shall not wither; And whatever shall prosper.” There should be fruit throughout our season of faithfulness. Even if that fruit isn’t obvious, there should be a knowledge that we are producing an offering for the Lord.
If we can’t identify the fruit of our efforts, or see any recent growth, this could be a sign that our season to remain faithful is drawing to a close. Perhaps God is trying to get your attention to ask you to pursue something entirely different with him.
3) Faithfulness is action. Faithfulness should not be a passive, enduring existence. There may be times when you feel God has put you on the shelf for a season, and he holds you back from doing the one thing you feel called to do. He may even ask you to remain faithful when nothing is happening in your circumstances.
However, this does not mean he requires nothing from you during the wait! He asks us to give thanks at all times, to love our neighbors, to work heartily for him, and to look for opportunities to bless those around us. We cannot use the idea of being faithful to excuse not doing all we can when we can.
Faithfulness in God’s Economy
We can’t confuse faithfulness with seniority. Does God really look at years of service the way we do? I wonder. Is pure faithfulness or “steadfastness” always the basis for spiritual promotion? I’m not sure. At least not as we often define faithfulness. Perhaps he looks at our hearts to see why we have persevered, and if we are remaining faithful in what he called us to, not just what is comfortable and familiar to us.
These are tough questions. As a person who has worked in a ministry setting for a long time, I can tell you I recognize the difference in my own life. I have stuck with a ministry longer than I should have because I loved what I was doing. I loved reaching people, hearing how I was helping their lives. I saw fruit at every turn. BUT when God was done with it, I had to move on regardless of how much I enjoyed what I was doing, the satisfaction it gave me and how much I would miss it.
He Who Called You Is Faithful
Just because you can stay in a position, or have for many years, doesn’t mean that’s everything God will ever have for you. It’s ok to let go of the past and even the expectations of others.
Faithfulness to God is much more important than faithfulness to a cause or a ministry.
When he starts tugging at your heart, don’t ignore him in the name of faithfulness. We can’t let our fear or comfort hinder the work God wants to do in our lives.
He who called you is faithful. Follow his leading and he’ll equip you to remain faithful, whatever that might mean on your journey.
I currently serve OMF (U.S.) in the role of Vice President for Communications. My passion is to help OMF share our mission and vision in fresh and relevant ways and to help others communicate well for his kingdom. As a writer and a leader, my heart is to encourage each of us to draw closer to Jesus and his purposes for us.