Getting Applause For Your Ministry Labor
Everyone loves a slap on the back, a “way da go!”, a solid high-five. Letters of commendation, special recognition, promotions–these are the things that keep us motivated and ambitious in whatever we pursue.
We want people to watch us perform, so that when we do well, they’ll notice it and affirm us. However, this can backfire. As hockey goalie Jacques Plante once lamented, “How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on, a buzzer sounds and 18,000 people boo?”
For many athletes, though, one of the primary reasons they compete is because they crave the acclamation of the crowd. When a person invests thousands of hours in order to excel in a certain discipline, one of the big pay-offs is the applause. Go ahead, admit it; whether you’re an unregenerate pagan or spiritual giant–you love applause.
But who’s applauding? That probably makes a difference to you. I recall running an indoor 60-meter high hurdle race in Los Angeles once. I won the race and was happy to be applauded. As I was decelerating after breaking the finish tape, I noticed that one of the guys helping us stop before we smashed into the wall was one of my all-time sports idols: Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain! And he was applaudingme! I tell you, his applause outweighed that of the entire arena to me!
Several years ago, Athletes in Action sponsored several “Supersport Weeks”. We would assemble several four-man teams composed of well-known Christian professional athletes and AIA staff athletes, and blitz a city with the gospel for a week. We’d go to a high school and challenge the four best athletes in the school to a five-event “Supersport Spectacular” competition during an all-school assembly. We’d share our testimonies and the gospel during breaks in the competition.
I was in rigorous training for the decathlon, hoping to go to the Olympics later that year, but decided to take a week out of my training to participate in the Supersport Week in Seattle. It was a arduous week! Our team did “Spectaculars” once or twice a day, every day, on top of other speaking. We were totally exhausted, sore and spent by the end of the week, but hundreds of kids had come to Christ.
The last night, they threw an appreciation banquet in a fancy ballroom. Everyone was there–all the athletes, city dignitaries, businessmen, donors, AIA brass–the works. As I basked in the glow of the evening, I thought, “Ahhhh. It was all worth it.” One by one, they asked each athlete to stand as he was introduced and applauded. They got to the end of the list and moved on with the program, but there was one problem: they never said my name!
I was absolutely devastated! All that toil; missing a crucial week in my training; working to exhaustion every day; giving my all in the competitions; preaching my heart out to the students–and no one noticed! No one cared!”
Then came the voice. It was as clear and audible to me as if someone had knelt next to me and spoke in my ear, but it was God talking to me in my heart.
“I noticed, Chris. I care. And I appreciate what you’ve done.”
My heart leaped and tears came to my eyes. From that moment on, I didn’t give a gnat’s navel if anybody else in that room or in the entire world acknowledged my effort! God did!
As a Christian athlete; as a Bible study leader; as a disciplemaker; as a new convert care ministry leader: who are you looking to for applause? We usually get weary in well-doing when nobody notices that we’re doing well. But Jesus notices, and He stands to applaud!
Max Lucado wrote in The Applause of Heaven: “Certain things about God are easy to imagine. I can imagine Him creating the world and suspending the stars. I can envision Him as almighty, all-powerful, and in control. I can fathom a God who knows me, who made me, and I can even fathom a God who hears me. But a God who is in love with me? A God who is crazy for me? A God who cheers for me? But that is the message of the Bible.”
Digesting this fact can be the highest motivational force you have ever known–no matter what your goals are.
The above article, “Getting Applause For Your Ministry Labor” is written by Chris Adsit. The article was excerpted from: www.disciplemakersinternational.org web site. November 2013.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.