Lately I’ve been enjoying Charles Bridges’ book The Christian Ministry: with An Inquiry into the Causes of its Inefficiency. I haven’t read anything this helpful on this topic for quite some time. In fact, I’ve bought a few extra to distribute. Anyway, there has been a number of passages that have really caught my eye including this one on what makes a ministry successful:
In marking the specific character of this warranted success, we may observe that visible success is various. There are some that plant – others that water; some that lay the foundation – others that build upon it. Some are designated for immediate – some for ulterior, work. Yet all have their testimony and acceptance in the Lord’s own time and way. Success is not limited to the work of conversion. Where therefore the Ministry fails to convert, we may still be assured, that it convinces, reproves, exhorts, enlightens, or consoles, some one in some measure at all times. It never “returns to God void,” when delivered in the simplicity of faith; nor will it, under the most unpromising circumstances, fail of accomplishing his unchangeable purpose.
But we must remember also, that present success is not always visible. Apparent must not be the measure of the real result. There is often an under-current of piety, which cannot be brought to the surface. There may be solid work advancing under ground, without any sensible excitement; as we observe the seed that produces the heaviest grain, lies the longest in the earth. We are not always the best judges of the results of our Ministry.
What do you think…especially the line I highlighted?