by Ava Pennington @AvaPennington
Ministry can sometimes be discouraging work in the best of times. It may become even more discouraging when we’ve poured ourselves into our calling and no one seems to notice our efforts. Or maybe we’ve worked and worked . . . and someone else gets the credit for what we’ve accomplished.
As Christians, we know we serve to glorify the Lord. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world . . . let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16 NIV). The goal of our work is to glorify the Father, not ourselves.
Still, it’s natural to want someone to notice and acknowledge our efforts. We all need encouragement. Certainly, the Bible exhorts us to encourage one another.
But the Lord knows our hearts. He knows our motivations. I’ve found God will frequently allow periods of anonymity or discouragement in my life to reveal my motives. If I’m ready to give up because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, that tells me my motives have been all wrong.
It’s no accident that among the hundreds of named women in Scripture, there are also more than one hundred references to unnamed individual women or groups of women. Immortalized in Scripture for all time, yet virtually unknown apart from being identified by their circumstances. It doesn’t seem quite fair.
Yet nothing escapes God’s notice. He knows who they are—each and every one of them. And he knows who we are, what we’re doing, and why we do it. Jesus reminded his followers that “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30 NIV). In Genesis 16:13, Hagar was amazed that God knew all about her, and she called Him El Roi, the God Who Sees.
So the next time you’re discouraged because of a lack of recognition or appreciation, there’s only one thing to do. Run straight into the arms of El Roi. Take comfort in knowing the Lord sees all you do and will reward you in His time and in His perfect way.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:9-10 NIV).
So who are we really serving? Paul reminds us in I Thessalonians 2:4 (NIV), “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts.” And in Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV), he wrote, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
When we’re in ministry the recognition and pay may not be much, but we can look forward to a retirement plan that’s out of this world!
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward his name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. Hebrews 6:10 NASB
About the author: Ava Pennington is an author, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) teacher, and speaker. Her most recent book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, is endorsed by Kay Arthur of Precepts Ministries.
Ava has also published stories in 30+ anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, including Today’s Christian Woman and Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse.
She is a passionate speaker and delights in encouraging groups with relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit www.AvaWrites.com.
Join the conversation: Have you ever struggled with a lack of recognition?