I think the main goal of those who take ministry seriously is to introduce people to Christ – and to disciple young Christians who may be making wrong life choices.
Ministry people talk to those young Christians and help them and do everything for them from listening to them talk for hours and hours and even more hours, bringing them food, weeding their lawns, taking them out to dinner … and of course, sharing God’s Word.
And so often … what happens is … nothing.
Last week my niece Beth and I went to see The Soloist. (I recently read the book and reported it on my blog earlier this year.)
If you don’t know the story, The Soloist is about a newspaper reporter who, while going to work one day, hears beautiful music – a homeless man playing the violin. To make a long story short, Steve (the reporter) begins investigating the man (Nathaniel) and discovers that he studied at Julliard. Because of mental illness, however, he dropped out and now lives on the street. Over the course of several months, Steve did everything possible to make life better for Nathaniel – getting him a cello, getting him an apartment at a mission, etc. Some of Steve’s plans worked, but a lot of them didn’t. In the end, Steve realizes that he can’t change Nathaniel, but he did learn a lot himself.
The movie was not a feel good, come-out- floating-on-top-of-the-world experience, because it is a true story and this is the way life happens (or doesn’t happen). The movie is raw because life is raw.
The movie also doesn’t factor in the spiritual aspect of life – which we do in ministry.
The thing is, just as Steve did everything possible for Nathaniel only to have Nathaniel turn on him – so it is in ministry. We help people and give them answers from God’s word – but unless they (with the help of the Holy Spirit) want the change themselves, it won’t happen.
But the Lord knows our heart.
He understands our efforts.
And He tells us to keep on reaching out to people.
And in doing so, we like Steve in the movie, can come out stronger people ourselves.