Some time in the past, the phrase we often quote came in to our vernacular; “time is money”. This subtle hint is a comment on one of our American values. If you’re not using your time wisely it’s costing you money. Money is worth the pursuit. This concept has found its way in to our thinking when we engage in ministry. Crossing cultural boundaries, well meaning mission workers can easily fall in the trap of assuming the people of their host country only need to buy what we sell. We have good programs that can make them successful. The tendency is to move in quick, sell hard, and present the bottom line of acceptance as proof of the sale. Sometimes it actually works. Once in a while there are measurable results. However, most of the time this is not the case.
I was once a salesman myself. I thought by showing up and presenting my plans and strategies to conquer the world I would be the catalyst to bring enlightenment to my foreign hosts. (I hate to think about the wasted effort.) Somewhere along the way, over time, I learned a valuable lesson. That lesson is this. Ministry grows out of relationship and relationship takes time to develop and nurture. There is no short cut, not of any lasting measure.
Sowing the seeds for long term ministry requires patience and an abiding trust in the sovereignty of God. If we believe we are doing God’s work, why do we assume the God who has always existed is in a hurry for us to get it done? Most of my life I practiced the adage, “let’s do something, even if it’s wrong.” To be willing to take my time is a learned skill that I’ve come to late in life. The formula for long term and lasting ministry is the proper blending of relationship and time.