In the culture and society in which we live, we hear the motto all the time — Bigger is Better. We are asked if we want to super size our fries or trade up for a bigger home. We shop at the superstores, and we love our SUVs. There is nothing wrong with any of these, but is bigger really better? If we are not careful, we can allow our culture to determine our significance in ministry based upon size. Unfortunately, many have allowed the motto, Bigger is Better, to undermine the impact and spiritual importance of their center. At the end of the year, we look at our statistics and make judgments based upon those numbers. The reality, however, is not always in the numbers.
In Luke 13:18-21, Jesus told two short parables that will realign our thinking once we understand their meaning. In these verses Jesus asked, "What is the Kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden, and it grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air made nests in its branches. And again he said, To what shall I compare the Kingdom of God? It is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, until it was all leavened." The "Kingdom of God" refers to the rule of God and the establishment of His purposes — in other words, how God works in order to bring about His will. The answer is that God uses small, seemingly insignificant things that bring about significant results — results that are far reaching in scope and unmistakable in impact.
The first imagery that Jesus used to highlight this truth is a mustard seed — one of the smallest seeds we know. These seeds are so small that it would take 20,000 mustard seeds to weigh just one ounce. Despite its small beginnings, that mustard plant can grow upwards of 10 to 15 feet tall. What starts small becomes large enough that birds perch within its branches. Based on size, the world tends to overlook the potential of something so small, but not God. The same mindset sometimes infects pregnancy center ministry. We look at only numbers and determine that if our numbers are not big, then God is not blessing. We can also look at our numbers compared with another center and become discouraged. Based upon the truth that Jesus was emphasizing, size is not what God uses to gauge effectiveness or significance.
The second image that Jesus used is that of yeast. With a small lump of leavened dough, a woman added it to a large amount of flour. It is amazing to watch how a small amount of yeast can dramatically influence even a large quantity of flour. The yeast permeates the dough, and as it rises, the amount of dough significantly transforms. This is how the Kingdom of God works. God starts with something small and insignificant, but He uses this tiny beginning to bring about dramatic changes.
In the counseling room, a counselor shares words of truth with a client. Those seeds are planted in her heart and mind and take root. God uses this new revelation to change her thinking, and she is no longer the same. She sees life differently, and her decisions are based upon the truth that was shared with her. Sometimes this happens quickly, and sometimes the process takes more time. The reality, however, cannot be overlooked that what the counselor shared was significant. What might have seemed like a kernel of truth shared by the counselor was actually used by God to dramatically influence the client's life. Just like yeast, a small amount of truth began to permeate her heart, and her life was forever changed. How does the Kingdom of God work? God uses small beginnings for far-reaching and eternal results.
Sometimes it is easy to think that what we do really doesn't matter. After all, we play such a small part in the vastness of life and eternity. What real difference can just one person make? Does my small, insignificant contribution matter? The answer is yes!
When I was pastoring a church in New Jersey, we had missionaries come and share about their work in Mexico and their ministry to the poor. They often ministered in landfills where children scavenged for food. Being on the mission field, funds were always scarce, and they relied upon donations. A large amount of food was donated to the mission, but they didn't have the gas money to get the food to those in need. Without the gas, the food would spoil and be useless. Just in time, a small donation of $15.00 came from a widow. Along with her check, she wrote a note apologizing for the small amount saying that it was all she could give. She didn't know it, but her donation was just enough to purchase gas and get the food to the children in time. Her gift wasn't small; it was huge because it made the relief possible. What is the Kingdom of God like? It is God using something that appears small to make a great impact.
As you walk through Scripture, this principle is seen repeatedly. God chose the Hebrews to be a blessing to the whole world even though they started out small and insignificant. When God chose Gideon to save Israel from the hand of Midian, Gideon reminded the Lord that his clan was the weakest in Manasseh and he was the least in his family. Gideon saw himself as small and unimportant, but God saw him in a different way. When God directed the prophet Samuel to anoint a new king over Israel, he thought that it would be Eliab. However, God said no. He told Samuel not to consider his outward appearance, for the Lord looks at the heart. David was then chosen to be anointed as Israel's king even though he was considered young and worthy of only attending sheep.
In I Kings 19, the prophet Elijah was in a cave hiding from Jezebel because of her threats following a tremendous victory for Elijah on Mt. Carmel. Elijah was discouraged because he thought he was the only one left that was zealous for the Lord. The Lord said to go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord for He was about to pass by. Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. After the fire, there came a gentle whisper; and God was in the whisper. The still, small voice of the Lord came to Elijah for the Lord was in the small, insignificant thing. If we look for God only in the big things, we will miss seeing the Kingdom of God at work.
Don't judge your ministry by man's criteria, but rather on God's barometer of success. The work that you are doing is important. Your ministry is vital and powerful. Don't think in terms of size to gauge your significance, but rather remember the principle of what the Kingdom of God is like. God works mightily though small beginnings. If God is working in the hearts of people and if eternal life and death decisions are being made based upon truth, then be encouraged. You are witnessing the Kingdom of God at work. Your ministry, though you may feel is small in comparison with eternity, has far-reaching effects that will be fully revealed in heaven. You are significant!
Rev. Mark Hiehle served as a Pregnancy Center Executive Director for 15 years and is an active speaker and writer on behalf of life and Biblical truth. He can be reached through www.highcalling.com.