A few months ago, I harvested the first fruit from my lemon tree. It was so tiny and small, I nearly threw it away. However, before it landed in the bin, God spoke to me. He said, “Don’t throw away the fruits I have given you, even though they seem small and insignificant. They are fruits. They grew in My presence and with the care of My hands. If you honor small fruits, I will give you big ones.” I knew instantly God was speaking to me about my life and ministry. He was teaching me to celebrate even the “small” fruits I see growing in our ministry in Ocean View, Cape Town, South Africa and beyond, even while my heart is longing for bigger fruits!
We all love to see big fruit in our ministry. Isn’t that true? Sometimes I compare myself with other ministries or people who seem to be more fruitful and successful. When I hear of salvations, baptisms, church planting movements and so many other things being celebrated in the Christian world, they can become a burden to me instead of an encouragement. In those moments I ask myself, am doing enough? Are we as a team on track with what God wants us to do? Should we do more? The more I am open about this topic and share it with other leaders, the more I realize that I am not the only one who experiences discouragement around comparisons. We can easily become dissatisfied with what we see and what we do when the ministry grows slower than we hoped it would.
But God is a wonderful God! He keeps on reminding me about what really matters. I don’t need to compare myself with others or try to bear fruit or exaggerate my experiences. God alone has His timing, both with me and with the people around me. It’s not about me, but about Him. If I am faithful in what He has called me to do and I’m consistently learning through the lessons He puts in front of me, then I will bear fruit.
God spoke to me many years ago, challenging my heart towards the people of this world. He asked me if I would be ready to sacrifice my life for one single person. At that time, my heart cried out in disbelief. How could God ask me this question? Does He not want to reach all the people in this world? Doesn’t He want to give me more influence? Of course as a young and very passionate pastor at that time, serving the refugees in our city and raising young leaders within the church, I had big ambitions to change the world. My heart wanted to see a movement of Jesus followers, not just reach only one single person. But God was spot on; He tested my heart toward obedience and faithfulness. This was a very important lesson for me in laying down my life – living a sacrificial lifestyle for the kingdom and not for my own ego.
I would love to ask this question of us all: are we ready to sacrifice our lives and our time to love one person into the kingdom of God? Are we ready to live a sacrificial lifestyle for Jesus, simply walking step-by-step in what He tells us? Or would we rather change our direction too early so we can find more fruitful places, or pretend we are more fruitful than we really are to boost our own egos?
Transparency and honesty are treasures. They keep us humble and close to Jesus. Exaggerating for Jesus is not a spiritual fruit. It is a lie even if we did it for a good cause to make Jesus known.
Yes, my lemons are growing, slowly but surely. It is an observation and the truth. They are still green, but they will soon be yellow and juicy. All that remains is for me to be faithful with what God has given me to do, both for my lemons and in the ministry. What does this look like for you? What is God asking you to be faithful with?
Doris Lindsay and her husband, Stefano, are the founders and directors of Hopetown, a missional youth community in Ocean View, Cape Town. They are longing to see transformation and restoration among the youth at risk in this former township, which is battling with many challenges like gangsterism, drug addiction, and crime. They are staff members of the All Nations Cape Town hub and very passionate to see local leaders raised. Check out their websites for more information. www.lindsays.ch / www.hopetown-network.com