Updated: Mar 28, 2019
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" He said, "God and tell this people: 'Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.' Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." Then I said, "For how long, Lord?" And he answered: "Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken. And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holly seed will be the stump in the land."
1. God's Call Does Not Always Make Sense Read it carefully and you'll know what I mean.
2. God Calls Us into His Mission, Not Necessarily to Make a Difference Many people jump into ministry with the motivation to make a difference. Well I'm not saying it's inherently wrong but that motivation could easily be self-serving. We could easily try to satisfy our own god-complex of making a difference rather than joining God's mission, I wonder whether Isaiah would have said yes if he knew he was called to become a bad preacher.
3. Success is not the End Game of Ministry I hear a lot of people justify their own and other people's ministry by their fruit: Large congregation, number 1 best-seller books, millions of Twitter followers, etc. It seems that if you have a large ministry then you are blessed by God for sure! Well on the contrary, having a large platform does not mean God is blessing your ministry. I can imagine Isaiah preached week in and week out doing thousand of altar calls without a single respond. Ouch.
4. God's Will in Your Ministry is Not Always Big We live in a celebrity pastor and mega church culture. We mistakenly think that the ministry that matters is the one that is reaching thousands of people doing missions in hundreds of country. But I've learnt that millions of pastor preaching to 50 people every week is no less doing God's work. Big is not always better in ministry.
5. Everything is by God's Grace You can study and prepare your sermon for more than 40 hours and deliver it Billy Graham style but that does not guarantee your listeners will respond. If the Holy Spirit does not move the heart of your congregation, you are preaching to people with dull ears. But! The good news is if we trust that the Holy Spirit is the one that touches the heart of the people, we can be assured that people will be touched even through our bad preaching.
6. Ministry is All About Faith and Trust, Not Result You may have served in your church for year but yet to see the "revival" that some preacher claimed on your church 10 years ago. Well ministry is about trusting the God who calls you in His mission. Trust that this is His work, not ours. Trust that this is His church, not ours. We should not be focusing on results, we should be focusing our trust in Him.
7. Ministry is for a Long Haul Ministry is not something you try for a few years between jobs. Ministry is to serve God for a long haul, regardless of results. Many people stops their ministry when they fail. However when we look at this passage, failure is not only a possibility but it is also a certainty. Ministry failures happen. Our job is simply to be part of God's mission - preach the Good News and let the Holy Spirit do His job.
8. The Congregation in Your Church is Still Not as Bad as Isaiah's Audience (I Hope) And we thank God for them!