Summary: Discover the building blocks for accomplishing God-size goals.
About two weeks ago, Eugene asked a salient question at the end of the church business meeting. He asked something like, "What kind of person am I becoming through this church?"
His question was not just introspective. He is serving on the Church Strategy Task Team, which will research how to reach and serve our community. He was moving toward the question, "If we bring people to church, what do we have to offer them? What kind of persons will they become as a result of coming to our church?"
The short answer is that we are becoming a Successful Participant in God’s work in and through us. And a Successful Participant is described on the banner behind me. This morning, we will be looking the characteristic of flexible persistence and how we can develop flexible persistence in our lives.
All of us have given up prematurely sometime in our lives. We may have come up against a business setback, and we quit. Others of us had relational difficulties, whether with our spouse, our in-laws or our co-workers, and we’ve stopped trying to work things out. Still others have started a physical, spiritual or academic program but gave up before reaching the finish line.
We live in a society and time when almost everything is handed to us without requiring us to be patient or to persevere. We buy our clothes off the rack. We buy our food frozen but pre-cooked. The shows on television and the movies resolve all the problems the main characters have, and they do this in 30 minutes to 2 hours at most. And recently, one can get a divorce on-line, without ever leaving home.
Flexible persistence is vanishing from our society. Flexible persistence enables us to work with difficult people in difficult situations to achieve God’s best. Flexible persistence trusts God and utilizes God-given resources to accomplish God-size goals. Flexible persistence can be developed, and we’ll look at its building blocks this morning.
The text is 2 Corinthians 4.
This letter from Paul to the Corinthian church deals in part with false accusations against the Apostle Paul and his Christian ministry. Rather than retaliate or give up serving with the Corinthian Church, Paul worked at resolving the problem. Let’s look at what Paul had to enable him to persevere.
First, Paul had the purity of motive. We see this in verses 1-6.
Paul was honest. He served the Corinthian Church because of his love for Jesus Christ. Paul’s purity of motive enabled him to work with difficult people who falsely accused him of using deceptive and self-seeking methods in Christian ministry. If our motives are pure, we will have the perseverance to work with difficult people or difficult situations.
Seven years ago, I left my job in biotechnology to serve as campus minister at UC Davis. Before I could begin, I had to raise over $30,000 in financial support.
I had never raised financial support before. The closest thing I ever observed was the KQED fund drives on television. In the first two months, I raised about 4% of the total amount. At this rate, I would need 200 months or 16 years to raise the $30,000.
I approached one of my college friends, a Christian who was doing well in computer programming. I asked if he would support me, and he agreed to support me $30.
I was young and tactless. I said something like, "You’re kidding. You’ve got lots of money, and you’re only supporting me $30?" He has not talked to me since that time.
I wanted to give up. My motive was to serve the college students, not to raise money. I didn’t want to wait 16 years to serve as a campus minister. And I didn’t want to lose another friend because I didn’t know how to raise financial support.
But I didn’t quit. My motive to serve the college students for the sake of Christ kept me going. I understood that raising financial support was necessary for ministry cost and my cost of living.
So I continued to work 8 to 10 hours each day in biotechnology, served the church for 15 hours each week and tried to raise my financial support. It took me 9 months to raise the entire amount. And by God’s grace, I didn’t lose another friend in the process.
Because my motive was pure, even though I didn’t know how to raise money, I persevered. A pure motive lays the foundation for flexible persistence. If you are thinking about giving up on a commitment, terminating a relationship or quitting in the middle of a project, check first to see if you have a pure motive.
If our motive is pure, we have the foundational building block for flexible persistence. And we can move to the next building block for flexible persistence.