While we were still studying at Bible College, Michelle and I served as youth leaders for a group of several dozen students in a much larger youth ministry.
Shortly after we got married, we were able to scrounge up enough courage to buy our first home: a small rambler in the Twin Cities suburbs. Friends and family graciously came and helped as they were able as we refinished many areas of the worn down old home.
One friend came by to help paint, and shared that he was becoming worn out in being a youth leader. He had served for several years, but challenges were arising in various students in the group, and he had ultimately come to conclude that in all the years he had faithfully served, and the hundreds and hundreds of hours he had prayed, discipled, planned and prepared meetings, and all the energy he had so relentlessly given, none of it had many any difference at all.
He wondered if in all of that time, even one students life had been affected. Even one person had gotten further ahead in their walk with Christ at all. If there should even be small groups in the first place. "With or without me, students who want to serve Christ will, and students who do not, will not" he concluded to me.
There had been times as a youth leader that I had felt like this way too. There are times when all of us feel this way.
Of course, he had made a difference. Every single one of those youth leaders were the steam room of the engine that ran that youth ministry. All together, they were seeing one of the most impactful youth ministries in the country playing out right before their eyes.
But if we get too close to the tree trunk, we fail to see the beauty of the tree as a whole, and we start to wonder if our role as a branch or a root even matters.
Don't be a fatalist. What you do makes a difference.
I think this is what Paul was meaning when he said: "So let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up." (Galatians 6:9) Don't be a fatalist. Don't lose heart. When you do good things, there are always good results.
This is what I think every time people say that states should legalize certain narcotics. Their reasoning: "People will do it anyway. We might as well tax it." Really? You really don't think that more and more people will feel it's acceptable to try it and waste their lives, fortunes and futures, unable to ever break free? I know a guy who has done this. Someone thought it was cool to give him a joint in High School. Now decades later, he still lives his life as a slave to the stuff. Wonder where that kid who thought it would be cool to have him try it is, and what he'd think if he could see the abuse he's caused this man's life.
I watched a news report on the state of Pennsylvania a few months back. They talked about how the governor was bringing in tons and tons of casinos. He thought it would do the state good, raising needed revenue for state spending. What harm could a casino on every street do? Really? We really don't understand that the more accessible we make it for people to become addicted and dependant on things like this, the more our society will be in a mess? I'll never forget being in Duluth, Minnesota over the years and seeing the scores of people that line the streets near the casinos after they recieve their paychecks. Most of them frittering away their fortunes, later unable to bring home enough for groceries for their hungry family. Granted, not every person who pulls a slot ends up this way, but society should be careful about make places like this too prevalent and accessible. Their are millions of people who have lost a whole lot because of the addictive power of places like this.
Edmund Burke said: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." When we do what we know is right for our families, cities, nation, and even our own hearts, we set the course for a different future than what we know today. Our good works prepare a better place for us and for generations to come.
Don't be a fatalist. Do the next right thing you know to do.