In Zechariah 4:10 we are told not to despise the day of small things or small beginnings, depending on which translation you’re reading. Many a church leader or person in ministry has found the strength to continue to give in their work based on this Word. It was Mum’s and my own experience when we jointly led our Sunday evening group. Be it two people, twelve, or twenty, Holy Spirit showed up and it was enough. We were in the right place at the right time and what a blessing it was. What about the flip side of that?
Congregations often liberally take from church leaders. In the small, rural churches I’ve attended, it has been my experience that other than lead pastors and perhaps financial secretaries, there are no paid positions. I taught a girls’ class years ago and was not paid. As a matter of fact, I dug into my own pockets at various times because going to the board for restitution was a pain in the butt. For one, there was no guarantee of payback; for two, until they had their meeting and the need was met the time for it was past. Please understand, I am not complaining, I enjoyed that season of life. I am simply stating a fact that may go unnoticed by many church attendees.
It’s been a couple of years ago now that Laura was burdened to bless our then children’s church director. The lady weighed heavy on her. Laura’s heart was not to give her money, but a gift. We had a family shopping day coming up and added Miss Holly to our hunt list. We gleefully kept our eyes open for anything that looked Holly like and added it to our growing gift bag. Pleased at last with our purchases, Laura made a beautiful gift card and discretely gave it to her. Miss Holly did not keep it a secret because the gift encouraged her at just the time when she needed it most. She boasted to the pastor and others in his office of the gift she received and emphasized the fact that it came from someone who didn’t even have a child attending children’s church! She was so glad that her tireless efforts were recognized.
I recently had this happen to me. I was given money from two different people and when I inquired as to why, they said it was because of my ministry to them. Huh? I was baffled. They meant in part, God’s Word Girl. Ah.
In Matthew 14:17-21, Jesus feeds a crowd of over 5,000 people with a ridiculously small offering of five loaves of bread and two fish. Since it was a boy who had these with him, I’m inclined to believe that the “loaves” weren’t like we know them today but something more like buns. But little is much when God is in it.
So it goes both ways: no ministry is too small to receive from and there is no ministry too small to give to. I sometimes think that when people read about bringing all of the tithes into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10), they assume it is their church. Period. I, however, have brought my children up to give to those who give (spiritually, etc.) and as God leads. Let me tell you how that’s working for them — their obligations are paid and they have cash enough left to tithe, save, and spend. I just told you in a recent post how they were blessed with an unexpected amount of cash to buy Christmas gifts several years ago.
Truth be told, since we are camping, I do not regularly tithe to our church. Some of you have just gasped with hand to mouth in shock. Let me tell you how that’s working for me. On Monday I spent the last $20 in my purse on a food item. It emptied my wallet. On Tuesday morning, by 9 (?) a.m., I was surprised when someone who saw furniture sitting out for sale in front of our house days prior popped in to purchase it for $45. That is on top of the gifts that I received for ministry. I thanked and thanked God for His goodness.
My personal rule of thumb, give to those who are giving to me, be it a church, an established ministry, or someone like our dear Miss Holly who God simply laid on the heart. Pray and follow His leading. You will not be disappointed.
If you are, per se, a church leader, I encourage you today to keep on keeping on. Maybe you are not being noticed by those you are ministering to but know that God sees and rewards. Frankly, when we are born again, know that we are all ministers of sorts, it’s just that some receive a paycheck for being so.
If you are a receiver of sorts, which I hope we all are, then I hope that you will join me in the challenge of asking the LORD where we should give. Is there a Sunday school teacher, worship leader, technician, custodian, or someone giving tirelessly to a small group that may need encouraged? I dare you to think outside of the box. Would the LORD lead you to give a large tip to that extra-attentive waitress? You may not view that as a ministry, but consider the times when you’ve had an inattentive waitress. There’s a difference. Perhaps we may consider giving to the harried day care worker, the person who is available to pray or counsel with us at a moment’s notice, the law enforcement officer who keeps us safe, or the welcoming neighbor.
Also, join me in the challenge of thinking outside of the box for the actual gift. Cash is almost always appreciated, but it may not be what that person’s heart needs at that time. Maybe they’d appreciate an act of service. The girls organized and cleaned a church storage room for one of our pastor’s wives while she was away on vacation. She did a happy dance when she discovered that the eye sore had been transformed into a serviceable area and asked the church secretary who did it. Maybe your recipient would appreciate someone trustworthy watching their children so that they can decompress. Maybe they’d love an invitation to dinner. Maybe they may require something they can hold in their hand and look at and be reminded that someone took the time to love on them and bless them.
Remember, no gift is too small, whether we be the one giving or the one receiving.