God is never in a hurry, and He is never late. He is working from the perspective of eternity. Church building is not swift or immediate. God may slow our progress or even set us aside for a time to make us stronger. Moses was forty years in the wilderness before he led Israel out of Egypt. Paul was saved several years before his missionary journeys. Likewise, God develops the preacher through trials and struggles which always requires the element of time. We must get to know ourselves, and our utter weakness before God can use us. A. W. Tozer stated, “God cannot use a man greatly until He first wounds him deeply.”

H. Strong was asked by a student, “Is there a shorter course I may take?” “Oh yes,” he replied. “It depends upon what you want to be. When God makes an oak, it takes 100 years; when He grows a squash, it takes only a few months.” It has been stated that the foremost requirement of a strong church is the longevity of the pastor. Church building requires time. Both good and bad experiences contribute to the maturing of the pastor which leads to the maturing of the church as a whole. Growth in the oak is not uniform, neither is it uniform in the Christian; there are times of solidification. A tree experiences most of its growth during four to six weeks in the summer. There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth. Every pastor will experience droughts as well as growth and times where the church is being solidified.

There is the temptation to seek experiences and blessings without experiencing the solidifying process of growth that makes us strong. The temptation is great to follow the latest fad and in essence the latest shortcut to growth. In the end, it will be through obedience to the Word of God and allowing God to refine the preacher that leads to true growth. Fruit ripens slowly — days of sunshine and days of storms each add to the process until the fruit comes to maturity.

True spiritual growth involves pain as well as joy, suffering as well as happiness, failure as well as success, inactivity as well as service, death as well as life. The temptation to take a shortcut is especially strong unless we see the value of and submit to the necessity of the time element. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” – Philippians 1:6

There are emotional highs and lows for every church. God is still working even during the lows to teach and mature His people. Every preacher wants to build a great church, but God wants to build a great people. God’s plan requires time, and the wise preacher will be patient, waiting upon God to do His work in us and in His church. Working hard and striving to be your best is admirable and every man of God should seek to be his best for the Lord. However, we must never lose sight of the fact that it is God’s church, and He will build it. Building an oak takes a long time.

“Being con_dent of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Used with permission from Church Planting Helper, Dr. Townsley.


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