Don't you hate it when you work pretty hard on something and then the end product doesn't seem like it was worth all the trouble? Last year in my Strategies for Teaching class, I had to make a model in a box of a Sunday School classroom. This isn't my kind of assignment. I can write research papers or give presentations, but please don't ask me to do anything artsy-craftsy. I spent hours cutting construction paper and shaping pipe cleaners, trying to make miniature tables and chairs. And when it was all said and done....my model looked like a kindergartner had made it. It's just not the sort of thing I'm good at. So I turned it in, and when I got it back later, I carried it directly to the dumpster in front of my dorm. My hard work just wasn't enough to make a very good model.
At times, I think we can feel the same way when we do other things too. For example, I feel like I work pretty hard at school, but it can be hard to see what I gain from that. People could say, "Well, it helps your grades," but those are really just letters on paper. Sometimes I wonder if my life would really be any worse if I didn't work as hard, and I'm not sure that it would be. Actually, it would probably be better in a lot of ways. We can feel the same way in ministry, too. We might work hard for hours and days; we may stay up late into the night in order to serve those under our care, and it seems like nothing ever changes. We could dig into research and pour ourselves into our sermons, but our listeners still zone out. We might dedicate years to pastoring a congregation, but that church never grows and never acts like it really wants to. Today I was with my friend Sy, and he said that sometimes it can feel like you prepare a gourmet meal, but everyone just nibbles at it.
And that's a frustrating feeling. We wonder why we should keep at it. Maybe it would be better if we didn't care so much. If we put up a little less effort. Is it really worth it?
I don't think there are many easy answers to these questions. It may be that our response is simply to remain faithful. We continue working hard because we believe that God will do something with it. We stick with what is correct even when it feels like it isn't. That's what faith is, in a sense. It means that we don't just quit when it seems like our effort is without result. We believe that God will bring about fruit when we remain faithful and serve him with what we have. I have heard people say that our goal as Christian leaders should not be to be effective, but to be faithful, and I think that is a good way to think of things. We do the best we can, and we trust God to do something with it.
In my last post, I had a contest, looking for suggestions on how I can increase readership of my blog. Only two people commented, which shows me how important these ideas may be, but it also shows me that it might be a lost cause anyway. In any case, I've decided that Charlie wins the contest for two reasons: 1) He gave a wide array of ideas (none of which will probably happen) and 2) Caitlyn doesn't like Taco Bell, so there is little use in me buying her a taco.
So tomorrow is Halloween. Today, I know of four of my friends that dressed up as geeks. I'm not sure if I should be honored or offended that people use Halloween to look the way I look every day.
I read a story today about a guy who has been the first person to gain 500,000 achievement points on XBox 360. I don't really know what that means, other than that this guy plays a heck of a lot of video games. You can see the story here. Now, I assume that the picture with the story is this guy and his girlfriend. And my question is this: How the heck did a guy who has spent the last five years playing video games for that many hours get a girlfriend that looks like that?! And people wonder why I'm cynical.