Not long after I finished preaching a man approached me with his family walking behind him. “Thank you for your sermon today,” he said. “It was exactly what I needed to hear. I’m going to stop drinking alcohol. It’s been a long time coming, but I decided during your sermon it’s what I need to do.”
I thought back through my sermon. What might I have shared to lead that kind of prompting in the man? I had no idea. My sermon was focused on the difference between believing in God and believing God. From my vantage point it did not lead to someone feeling empowered to rid themselves of a sinful addiction. And yet, it did.
This is just one recent example, but I could share many others when the point I was trying to make made a completely unrelated impact.
A couple things immediately came to mind after this interaction:
First is Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians church,
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow (1st Cor. 3:6-7).
Second is the often quoted encouragement included in Isaiah 55,
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my 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 (Is. 55:10-11).
As ministers of God’s gospel, we often get overly focused on results. We craft our communication to steward well the opportunity to lead others closer to God in a specific way. And yet, our calling is not the results. We are part of the process, the outcome is God’s to accomplish.
When I release the need to achieve outcomes to instead focus on being part of the process, I enable God to work in people the way only He can. When I’m truly faithful to the process, I assure the outcome that needs to take place can take place.