Do Your Best
It’s almost unbelievable who Christ entrusted with His mission to save the world! This motley bunch of original disciples were the most unlikely candidates for being the founding agents of global redemption. Yet they did it! And along the way, they stumbled, faltered, and probably let Christ down. But they did it! And this should give us, who stumble and falter, great hope, that Christ knows what He’s doing when He chose us!
There are some churches around the world that are world’s best practice. Their music is world-class. Their ‘customer’ service is second to none. Their preachers are more inspirational than the best TED talkers. Their facilities are better than the best Westfield shopping centre. They hold international conferences which attract thousands of delegates. As far as churches go, these are the best. But they only comprise less than 1% of all churches around the world. For the rest of us in the 99% of churches around the world, we may not be among the best, but we are generally comprised of those who are doing their best. And it seems that Jesus is still entrusting His mission to people like us – people who stumble and falter.
At Legana we are blessed. We recently opened our new worship centre. Many people have told us that it is among the best in our State. It is a beautiful centre with plenty of room for growth. But it can cause us confuse being the best with doing our best. And this is one of the greatest dangers any church can face because it can lead to an overwhelming sense failure and even despair.
Paul’s Last Letter
The last letter the Apostle Paul wrote, that we know of, was his Second Epistle to Timothy. In it, he uses the expression “do your best” three times to his young protégé.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Second Timothy 2:15
Being the best requires making comparisons. Doing your best simply means working with your availability, abilities, training, experience, and use of available resources. Sometimes each of these qualifiers (time, talent, training, experience, and resources) are limited. In the 99% of local churches scattered around the world, there are usually 20% of the people doing 80% of the work. I wonder if this is because the 80% who sit back don’t feel good enough to be able to serve? Paul’s injunction to young Timothy was to do your best to present yourself to God as a pastor of God’s people whose primary task was teach the Word of God to his congregation. When we do our best, we have need to be ashamed.
Shortly after I began pastoring Legana I was nearly overcome with a sense of inadequacy as a preacher. Each Sunday morning before I went to church I would go on a prayer walk and cry out to God for His help. I asked and asked and asked that He might use me more effectively to teach His Word. I begged Him to make me into the kind of preacher who cared deeply for those I ministered to. I pleaded with Him to mould me into a persuasive preacher to rescue those who were wrestling with doubts and to enable me to deliver the antidote to doubt – the truth – in the power of the Holy Spirit. I sought Him for the insight to be able to convince the hardest sceptics and cynics to turn to Christ based on the evidence for the God of the Bible (shortly after this praying I was to discover F.W. Boreham). I have continued to surrender to Him prayerfully asking that He would help me to grow as a pastor, a preacher and a teacher – and I would value your occasional prayer for this as well. I have tried to do my best.
“That’s all any of us can do – our best.”
We may never be the best at anything, but we can do our best in everything. This is why, must to the surprise of many, I’m relatively relaxed about how we are doing as a church. We have an extraordinary percentage of our church who serve and give support. I am deeply grateful for everyone who volunteers to help in the various things that need doing in our church. I am grateful for you who offer yourselves to the Lord and prayerfully ask God to help you to do your best in however you serve. I have noticed that many of our young people have been doing this and have volunteered to help out in various roles. What I am also noticing is that there must be people asking God to help them to do their best. Because, when I began to earnestly seek God those few years back to help me to do my best as a preacher I became hungrier to learn and to grow. My openness to instruction and training increased. And I am seeing a similar thing happen among many in our church.
¶ Do your best to come to me soon.
Second Timothy 4:9 (Also see v.21)
The Best Is Sometimes Just Being There
Paul’s plea for Timothy to come to him (in prison) soon is heart-warming. Paul goes on in this epistle to reveal that he knew he was about to die soon. Indeed, he would. Toward the end of 64AD, shortly after the Apostle Peter was crucified by order of Caesar Nero, the Apostle Paul would be beheaded by order of the same tyrant who executed Peter. His plea to Timothy reminds us that while we can each do our best, sometimes we can be the difference in someone’s life. At this lonely time for Paul, he longed to see Timothy, his son in the faith (1Tim. 1:2). None of us should dismiss the encouragement we are by just being there. Paul longed for Timothy to just be there with him in this trying hour. Coming to worship on Sundays, even if you don’t serve as a volunteer, is being an encouragement to others. Do your best to come to worship on Sundays.
Give Christ Your Best Shot
The beautiful thing about Church is that it is comprised mostly of people who are not the best and we know it. But with the help of the Holy Spirit we are each learning to improve and to spur one another on to even greater effectiveness for Christ. So don’t worry if you’re not as good as someone else, or that many others are better than you at whatever, just keep giving Christ your best shot. And somehow, I suspect, that just as He established the church with faltering, frail, and stumbling servants, He will probably culminate His church’s closing efforts with similarly weak and faltering servants like you and me.