I have in my files a number of now-famous and wealthy people who began working at entry level positions with equivalent pay: the classic work that begins at the beginning: as janitors, they began, as MacDonald’s employees, as a nail-puller for his dad—receiving a penny for each nail pulled from old boards, etc., etc.
Which suggests that growth in discipleship needs to be more incremental that sensational; more stair-stepped than inclined; more the building of plateau’s than scaling sheer cliffs. It begins with practices like Bible reading and prayer, church attendance and Christian fellowship. It increases with tithing and sharing one’s faith with unbelievers and offering counsel to troubled, burdened Christians.
The effort protects Christians from falling too far from grace in life’s “quiet times”—the “zero growth plateau” periods. When we’re absorbing and incorporating what had previously been initial impressions. Movie personnel taking the longest to achieve star status usually stay longer in that status. Just so those who gradually and perseveringly deepen in faith are often the long-lasting “work horses” of discipleship. They continue increasing in maturity without achieving it, knowing the pursuit is more challenging than the arrival satisfying. Besides, they know they can only deepen in Christ’s presence, never plumb his depths. They know they’re more mature than they have been, but not as mature as they’re going to be.
There’s one more benefit to incremental growth as a Christian. However useful we have or haven’t been to Jesus, our best is still to come. As Richard Trench wrote in a poem,
“If Heaven has aught for us to do or say,
Our time will come....” Chambers Complete Works, 873
True...that takes little faith when we’re young and feel our time hasn’t yet come. It takes lots more faith to believe when we’re older and feel our time has passed. Nevertheless, faith teaches us that when God wants a servant, he’ll ask only his preparedness to serve, not his age.
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