I have learned an important lesson in almost 30 years of ministry. Actually, I have just now realized the truth of what I’m about to tell you. I am slow to this conclusion in part because I am an optimist, and optimists generally have no concern with how long an event will require to reach its conclusion. For example, an optimist might say, “The wait for a table at Cracker Barrel is 45 – 60 minutes? No problem. I’ll enjoy the food and the atmosphere.” A pessimist, on the other hand, might say, “The wait for a table at Cracker Barrel is 45 – 60 minutes? No way- nobody’s food is that good!”
So, it really does depend on your outlook on life in general as to how long it might take to reach the conclusion that…. we are not in control of how long it takes to love someone to Jesus.
I have friends in the ministry who talk about evangelism and discipleship as if complete life-change can happen in a few hours, or at the most, a week or so. Some churches market their super ministries as if everyone they encounter will find Christ and will immediately repent and become fully devoted followers before the next business meeting.
Often, we play out scenarios in our heads that look really good- while they are in our heads- but in real-time, can seemingly take forever to unfold. Maybe this speaks more about me than about them, but I find that, sometimes, watching life-change up close can take lots longer than we think it should.
Don’t give up because you think you are getting nowhere, or because you think it is taking too long, and you interpret that to mean that they are not interested in what you are offering, or that you are not properly equipped to reach people. Let me encourage you to remember that we work on God’s clock, and however long it takes to love someone to Jesus is just how long it takes. And whether it takes days, weeks, or years, it is still worth the work. Both you and they will enjoy the atmosphere in heaven.
How long has it been since you have encouraged someone to give their heart and life to Christ? Have they? How long did it take?