Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Effort with Excellence

“So is the word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11, NIV 1984). 

Malcolm’s myeloma had returned. His disease had been under control for three years but now the paraproteins were rising. I explained our need to resume therapy and the consequences of such therapy. He and his wife were satisfied and agreed to proceed as I had suggested. His chances of a repeat remission were good.

As Malcolm left the room, he shook my hand and said, “Thank you for being here for me, Doc. I believe in you.”

I responded, tongue-in-cheek, “You’d better believe in God and just trust me to do my best.”

He replied, “It’s a given that I keep God first. But I’m sure glad you’re on my team.” 

There is a difference in outcomes and effort. Certainly the two are associated, but in an imperfect way. This patient believed in me for an outcome I could not guarantee. If I do my job with excellence, I will more likely see a good outcome for him. But I am responsible for effort with excellence, not outcome. 

So it is with evaluating our work for God’s kingdom. We may or may not see people coming to Christ through our efforts. We count up the poor who are fed, the sick who are healed, the souls that are saved, the church that has grown; and then we either take credit with pride or feel like we have failed our King---but this is measuring the wrong things.  

Outcomes are all God’s business. We are told to feed the poor, heal the sick, bear witness for our Lord, serve faithfully in our churches and do so with excellence. But the only power that accomplishes for the kingdom comes from God. Our job is to seek His presence, seek His will, obey what we can discern and trust Him with the outcomes. Never is it our right to take on the credit or the blame for God’s results. We should run as far as we can from crediting God’s “successes” or “failures” as our own. In fact, a lack of personal credit may be a good sign that we are doing things well. 

Oswald Chambers put it this way: “The proof that you are on God’s line is that other people never credit you with what comes through you.” 

We should look at ourselves this same way: effort with excellence, ours---outcomes, His. 

Dear God,
Let me do my work as a servant should. Please accomplish all that you seek through me and let me trust you for the outcomes.


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