There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. “For whom am I toiling,” he asked… Ecclesiastes 4:8
As a husband and father, I sometimes wonder if my children will ever understand and appreciate my sacrifices for their well-being. Perhaps it is too much to ask of them because I don’t think I truly comprehend and value the sacrifices of my parents for me and my siblings. Yet it does feel good when my children express gratitude to me and my wife for how much we’ve invested in them.
But then again, the things we do for our children are our service to God. Whether or not our children express genuine and heartfelt gratitude for caring for them should not deter us from doing our duty as parents. It is God who gave us the responsibility and ministry of parenting. He alone knows how much we’ve sacrificed and will reward us accordingly, even when our children do not appreciate our sacrifices.
Moreover, as a disciple of Jesus Christ called to the vocation of pastoral ministry, I often wonder whom I am working for. The call to ministry is a call to suffer and sacrifice for the sake of Jesus Christ. The people we serve may never appreciate the price we have to pay to serve them. Yet they do not need to know how many hours we spent preparing sermons or Bible study. Those who sing in their church choir or praise team should not make worshippers feel guilty for not worshipping the way they want, or for not showering them accolades.
Youth ministry leaders may not get their due gratitude from the youth they lead or their parents, yet they should not forget whom they are working for. When pastors are overwhelmed by the challenge of leading their congregations, they should remember whom they are working for. After all, most people do not go into pastoral ministry for fame and fortune. They do so because they are called by God according to Jeremiah 3:15, (And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding). Every time I think about giving up on pastoral ministry, God reminds me that I work for Him, and He alone decides when my service to His kingdom will be over. When I do not feel appreciated for my service to the Body of Christ, I have to remember whom I work for.
Less we forget, Jesus was rejected, persecuted, and ultimately killed by the people He was sent to save. Instead of gratitude, He received crucifixion. On several occasions, the religious leaders tried to stone Him for doing miracles to help others. Yet He stayed the course all the way to Calvary because He knew whom He was working for.
I do not want to be misunderstood. Believers should encourage those who are called to be servant leaders in ministry. Ministry leaders like pastors should be affirmed and showered with love and appreciation, without idolizing them, continuously. But because human beings are flawed, and because they can sometimes forget to acknowledge the sacrifices of one another, we should always remember whom we are working for so we can fulfill our ministry without losing the joy of our salvation.
So, the next time you are criticized by others in the body of Christ while trying to give your best, remember whom you are working for. Parents, the next time your children failed to say thank you, or you do not receive a Father’s Day/ Mother’s Day card, remember whom you are working for. Remember, “whatever you do, work at it with your whole being, for the Lord and not for men, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as your reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).
Questions for Personal Reflection
What do you do when people fail to recognize your hard work and dedication?
Why is it important to remember that you work for God and not human beings in all situations?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, thank you for giving me eternal life and calling me to serve your kingdom in the vocation of pastoral ministry. Please help me to remember whom I am working for when I feel unappreciated or overwhelmed. May I persevere through trials and difficulties as I do your great commission work because I know I will receive an eternal inheritance from you as my reward!