Forget About the Numbers: Being Faithful in Little Things
I don’t know about you, but I often find in my Christian walk that a number of related things will come together all in a very short period of time, serving to confirm a spiritual truth or underline some biblical reality. This has just happened to me again over the past few days.
Now if I were simply Joe Pagan, I might just put all this down to mere coincidence. But because I am a Christian I believe it is in fact a God thing. The particular point that kept cropping up of late had to do with the twin spiritual truths of being faithful in the little things, and not worrying about whether we are impacting the masses.
The classic verse on the first one is of course Luke 16:10 in which Jesus said, “He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much”. The main thing is to be faithful, even if it seems to be just a very small and inconsequential matter.
Let me tie these two things together with a bit of my own personal story. I can often question whether I really am doing all that much good for Christ and the Kingdom. I sometimes wonder if there is much good fruit coming out of the work of CultureWatch and all the rest that I do.
I often think that my influence is not very great and I am not reaching many people. So I will go to the Lord and offer back to him the ministry I am involved in. I tell him that if he wants me to stop what I am doing and/or do something else, I am willing to do so.
And the sense I get of what the Lord seems to say to me in reply is this: ‘Don’t worry about the numbers, but just be faithful in what I called you to do. Even if only a few people are touched, blessed and encouraged because of your work, that is sufficient.’
With this as a backdrop, let me mention the various things that seem to have dovetailed over the past few days, all to emphasise these truths. Yesterday a Christian leader and book publisher who I had not met before wanted to catch up with me, so I suggested Koorong (hmm,.. a bookstore – how convenient. And I came away from there with only seven new books!).
He was eager to catch up and share some thoughts as he found me to be on the same page as he was. So we had a good time together. When he asked about the extent of the outreach of my ministry, I said there are things that can monitor one’s web traffic and so on, and that the numbers were good and holding steady – but not really rising.
He was impressed with the numbers. I said for a small-fry outfit like mine they are probably not bad, but they are nowhere near the big boys. But he mentioned how helpful some of my earlier books had been, along with my website. He mentioned others who were also blessed by my ministry. So all that was very encouraging indeed and gave me some hope!
As to numbers, I had just been sharing on the social media and elsewhere a terrific quote I had found from Spurgeon. He had said this: “Long ago I ceased to count heads. Truth is usually in the minority in this evil world. I have faith in the Lord Jesus for myself – a faith burned into me as with a hot iron. I thank God, what I believe I shall believe, even if I believe it alone”.
Yes quite so. If some New Age fraud like Oprah Winfrey came to town, she would easily fill an auditorium of 25,000 people five nights a week. Numbers in themselves mean nothing. People who like to have their ears tickled will always flock to the false prophets and teachers, while ignoring the true ones.
Two other experiences from yesterday also confirmed these two truths I have been talking about. Last night I read a chapter about the ‘discipline of perseverance’ in R. Kent Hughes’ excellent book, Disciplines of a Godly Man in preparation for my men’s group today.
Once again, the emphasis was on being faithful and persevering, regardless of what others may do. Also, last night I was looking up something in vol. 1 of Lloyd-Jones’ magisterial 14-volume expository commentary on Romans. After I found what I was looking for, I flicked through some other pages in the book.
I came upon a terrific story that he shared. While commenting on Romans 1:14-15 where Paul says he is a debtor to all men to preach the gospel, the Doctor spoke about a holiday he took in the country with his wife. The pastor there was elderly, it was a hot day, and he had three sermons to give. So Lloyd-Jones kindly offered to take the afternoon service. As he got into the pulpit he saw his wife and just five other people. He then says this:
Let me admit it quite frankly and honestly, the devil came to me and tempted me, and he did so in this way. ‘Well, of course, with only five people – just give them a little talk!’ Quite apart from the fact that I am not good at that kind of thing, I recovered myself, and this is what I said to myself: If you cannot preach to these five people in exactly the same way as you preached last Sunday in Westminster Chapel, the sooner you get out of the pulpit the better! By the grace of God I was enabled to do so, and I have never enjoyed a service more in the whole of my life! The preacher who is dependent upon his congregation is unfit to enter the pulpit. (p. 253)
Wow, great stuff. And this again made me think of my own ministry and the few that seem to benefit from it. The truth is, if only five people get saved and discipled because of what I am involved in, it is sufficient. I may never reach the masses. I may never have zillions of followers. I may never have a terrific impact in cyberspace and elsewhere.
But if I am doing what God has called me to do, and doing it faithfully, that is enough. And let me mention one more incident which has again tied all this together. Just this morning I had a mother tell me on the social media that her seven-year-old son is asking all sorts of hardcore theological questions.
She said she has been using my site to get some answers for his curly questions. I thought that was pretty neat. If I only exist to help a mum help her young child to learn more about the faith, that is enough. We must be thankful for small blessings. We must resist the false belief that bigger is always better.
We must resist the siren call to have more and more people in our orbit of ministry. While far too many pastors and church leaders are craving to have their flock become the next big thing – the next big megachurch – God is much more concerned with us being faithful in the little things.
If our congregation never numbers more than 50, but those 50 are being fed, are growing, are maturing in Christ, are full of love for God and others, it is enough. Forget the deceptive dreams about having a massive outreach and a massive auditorium to house your kazillions of church folks.
Concentrate on being faithful to what God has given you, and don’t worry about numbers. As has been said, if we take care of the depth of our character, God will take care of the breadth of our ministry. So forget about the numbers and concentrate on being all that Christ wants you to be. That is enough.
30 Replies to “Forget About the Numbers: Being Faithful in Little Things”
Quality always surpasses quantity. I’ve only been following you for a short time but have been very encouraged. I often feel alone in my views so when I find someone with similar ones I stick with them and keep on believing in truth.
God uses you to reach the ones He wants. Me too! Sometimes I think I’m wasting my time but then what else would I do that is more valuable and worthwhile and there is nothing. I believe God has called me for such a time as this – small as my input is. Open our eyes Lord, that we may see the impact we have.
Thank you Bill (Lesley, 74)
Many thanks Lesleyann.
You have in fact inspired many. I’m one of them.
Bill you have taught, corrected, and inspired many more than you will ever know, in this life. When you are shown in the next life the impact of your labours and your calling here on earth, then you will know. What a promise we have that all will be revealed in the next life, for all to see. In the last couple of weeks I have experienced the very same thing you have mentioned here. I received the very same answer. “Just be faithful”… Jesus told us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. It might be trying at times, and test us to the core, but we must remain faithful in the small things first, then keep climbing our mountain. I have never been more joyful as when He reveals His answers to us PERSONALLY ! Our God personally reveals Himself to us as we seek Him. How AWESOME indeed ! Bill, as I have encouraged you before, keep up the good work. I depend on your ministry for much of the information I need to answer those “curly” questions when asked.
Thanks and blessings Ken.
Dear Bill, we endorse all of the above and we thank God for you. Be encouraged . . . and thank you!
And God sent you to answer my question just this afternoon at the pool where I was just bemoaning the fact that I seem to be writing to ghosts! ? In my heart of hearts I know what you’ve written and said is true and yet the flesh is greedy! It dies not help that it can be very lonely.
So THANK YOU for this timely God-sent encouragement to keep keeping on!
Many thanks Serene. Bless you.
Bill. You are on the right track, do not despair. A former pastor of mine once said: In biblical and spiritual matters the majority is always wrong. There wont be many ‘travellers’ on the narrow road. Cor Knoop
Bill, your site is the first I go to daily. You are building a lasting legacy, one that has and will deeply influence many for a lifetime. Your work not only inspires me personally, I also use your ideas to build up other Christians and to write to politicians and others in the public domain.
Keep going Bill! Remember the sayings of the wise Winston Churchill – ‘Never give up, never give up, never, never, never give up.’
I think the big mystery is we will never know the ramifications of the smallest deeds that we do. They do reverberate around the cosmos. What more can I add?
Thanks Bill for being honest about yourself and for restating the reality that faithfulness to God is what is called for.
You are a ‘catalyst’. What you have by the grace of God is the gift to stir minds and hearts to consider the real issues…..to consider the word and will of God. You put truth in such clear terms and pile one statement or example upon another until only ‘blind Freddie’ or ‘deaf Annie’ could fail to get the message which in reality is God’s message.
And a ‘catalyst’ not only produces changes and learning in others, but sees those ‘others’ being stirred and further equipped for action along the lines that God has for them.
Thanks for not giving up on the challenges and for not being driven underground by the critics.
You stand for something and particularly for Somebody (the Lord Jesus Christ) who told us that being a follower of his was not going to be a ‘bed of roses’.
Because of your service, Bill, others are being emboldened to follow Christ – and if need be, to embrace the ‘cross’ of suffering for the cause of the truth as it is in Him.
Thank you, Bill – I believe many Christians are experiencing these exact thoughts too – ie: wondering whether we are doing enough……and the impact it may be having….
However, your Amazing Outreach in my own little circles has such an encouraging & enthusiastic following.
And one glorious day, Good & Faithful Servant, you will be shown how your Culture Watch Ministry has impacted lives far beyond our own limited understanding.
1 Corinithians 13:12 (NLT)
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Love it! – Only 7 new books?
Many thanks guys.
Ditto to all the above comments. Let God worry about the cost-benefit analysis. Just keep moving forward, but look after yourself. Live saints write more blog articles than dead ones.
As a side thought, you should add one of those revolving counters to your website. Not to count the number of followers but the number of books you have!!!
Thanks David. I fear a counter for my new books would quickly break down due to overuse!
Thank you Bill for this article. My husband and I have been and continue to be extremely encouraged and challenged by what you write. Thanks for clearly presenting the gospel and God’s truth faithfully. We’ve been serving in a church for nearly 30 years and it has rarely reached more than 50 at a time, so we’re encouraged to keep being faithful to the Lord in His work.
Many thanks Stephanie.
You’re the go-to for comment on the big ticket, hot potato items regarding culture and morality in these times of propaganda disinformation and lies! You’ve been a light to the mysteries of the bible for me and others, much appreciated.
This reinforces a sermon I was listening to the other day, about being faithful in small things, based on the parable of the talents. It was certainly challenging.
Yes Bill, your principle that we be faithful in what God gives us to do is right. I don’t know if this story is true but I once heard of a missionary who went to Algeria to reach the Muslims with the gospel. She remained there many years – I think 20 or 40 years – and after her death there was not one single convert. It was only 10 or 20 years after her death that the first convert to the Christian faith happened because of the work God asked her to do before she died.
Whether it is true or not, the point is we are called to do what God asked us to do and trust Him for the outcome.
Amen to All that, Brother Bill! Write on!
Mate I am greatly encouraged by your ministry and love how you speak the truth unashamedly. I love it how you think through issues and always cut through the froth and bubble of all the white noise out there masquerading as God’s truth. Keep up the great work brother. I read a number of Christian bloggers, Particularly Aussie folks and I try to pass on what I have received to others so they too can be built up in the faith. So be reassurred your doing a great work in God’s Kingdom and your helping us Christians at times to be kicked into gear and invigorated for the challenges and barbs that the secular culture throws at us. So thanks heaps for your ministry and be encouraged brother.
Cheers Colin Gardiner
Many thanks indeed Colin.
“Whoa, I was caught by the words in the title “Forget about the numbers…”
Recently it dawned on me that Christianity is not a numbers game at all. It is a treasure hunt. We are not here to mass-produce Christians, we are here to dig for diamonds.
This changes everything. Instead of fretting about how fast Muslims are breeding, I can focus on who will be the next diamond around me.
You see, Islam is a mass-production system. They mass-produce by breeding and by threat. It is also very easy to be a Muslim in a Muslim country, you just follow the crowd. Mass-production.
Look at atheism. They are mass-produced by the education system and the media. It is easy to be an atheist in today’s secular society. You can do whatever you want and feel intellectually superior to the ignorant Christians and their ancient little book. Mass-production again.
But unlike Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Atheists, you cannot be born a Christian. Every single Christian has to be hand-crafted and extracted with care. They are not mass-produced, they are custom built by the teamwork of the Holy Spirit and us.
So there is only one phrase in your article I have to disagree with Bill:
“We must be thankful for small blessings. We must resist the false belief that bigger is always better.”
No, they are not small blessings. A couple of diamonds is so valuable to God that he built the entire universe and has billions of people, just for the hope of producing that miraculous, ultra-precious and rare treasure of a true Christian.
I to can relate to the mother in your story who uses your materials to answer her son’s challenging questions. I too have forwarded many an article to my daughter who is starting to ask the more complicated questions as she gets older, and they have been the catalyst for many a great conversation with her! Your work is invaluable, so please be encouraged to keep up the great work you do for the kingdom. Be blessed bro!