In 1970, the British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge went to Calcutta to interview Mother Teresa. As he learned about the work she was doing in the slums, he began his interview by asking:
MM: Oh, no, this is where the Lord wants me, and this is where I am happy to be. I feel young when I am here. The Lord is so good to me. How privileged I am to serve him.
For those of us who have occasionally lost direction or battled burnout, her witness of persistence is remarkable. Of course, since her death in 1997, we have learned that her long life of service was marked by private passages of doubt, discouragement and despair. That is true of many holy people. But at one point in her ministry, she was asked how she could face the overwhelming poverty, when her daily work seemed to make absolutely no dent, no difference. When asked what kept her going, she responded: God calls me to be faithful, not necessarily successful.
I think about the church, and the challenges facing those who care about the church, serve in the church, hope for the church. In my travels around the church, I meet heroic people who work with minimal resources, with entrenched resistance to change, with dwindling attendance. It can seem as if efforts may not make a difference. How do we focus on faithfulness when success seems elusive?
I think about each one of our lives, the great variety of ways that people are called, as followers of Jesus, to take up the cross, whatever that cross may look like. I think of quiet endurance, in relationships and situations that are burdensome or broken. I marvel at the ways people keep on keeping on, living faithfully, even if in the world’s terms they are not successful in healing the situation. What is God asking you to do and be this week, in your household, at work? Is there a situation there that seems to defy success? Think about your place in the church, in the community of faith. Think about your call as a global citizen, in a world marked by challenges. We are not promised success in resolving all the challenges that surface in those places. We are called to faithfulness, which sounds a lot like trusting the concerns of our heart to the one from whose love we can never be separated, the one whose character is faithfulness.
Today, think more about what it means to be faithful and worry less about what it means to be successful.
– Jay Sidebotham
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.