Reflecting on the Ecclessia Gathering One Month Later – The Results Do Not Depend On Us – Post 3

One of the main themes that Dallas kept reminding us was in the simple statement, “The results do not depend on us”. It could have been my imagination but it seemed that every time he made an allusion to that, the room winced. I did because that line has a spiritual older cousin – the “Give it to God” cliche. Only it isn’t a cliche when Willard mentions it.

Shane Hipps said something similar regarding his preaching during one of his presentations at Poets, Prophets and Preachers in Grand Rapids last year. He preaches it, leaves the words and doesn’t think about them the rest of the afternoon. From the illustration he wanted to use (“Forget about it”), the awkward wording (“Don’t regret about it), the key line that he had been waiting all week to say (“Well there’s next week”). He said he is allowing himself to enjoy the freedom of releasing the message and allowing the Spirit and hearts to work.

I, of course, find it compelling to feel that way.

The results-problem is not a new thought for anyone. I know I have spent a lot of time throughout my 10 years of ministry dwelling on this very point. How do I release it without getting lazy? How do I care without caring so much? Was Jesus not disheartened when the crowds rejected His words or was the line “He who has ears, let him hear” really enough to release Him from the results?

I remember hearing an older, well-season pastor say to me, “If the people didn’t like Jesus’ sermons, I’m not going to feel bad if they don’t like mine”. I thought, “Well you should because I’ve heard you preach – the sermons suck.” But instead I said something like, “People don’t tell you negative feedback because they are afraid of you. So yeah technically, you are not focused on the results.” Then I ran because I knew I was much faster than he was. Kidding, kidding sorta …

There is a skeptical nature that I have towards Dallas’ words. We all know of a church that enables its pastors because he’s getting people down the aisle or he’s getting the new education wing built or whatever result justifies inappropriate behavior. Missional pastors who try to avoid these types of standards tend to focus on subjective matters like feedback that reflects actions of a transformed heart or the support of a others-centered project. These are arguably our altar calls and education wings. I’m not saying this is wrong, I am just looking in the mirror and finding the obstructions in my vision.

If I being completely honest, my cynicism can even be directed to a personal hero like Dallas. “It’s easy to say that you the results do not not depend on us when you are a sought after speaker and your publisher worries if the book doesn’t sell 50,000 copies. You worry about which speaking engagements to reject, I worry that “my audience” won’t come back next week.”

Further, this post can easily get into the unfair standards that pastors are often judged (as I just demonstrated three short paragraphs ago ;-). But this is precisely what Willard’s wisdom is offering to help. Realizing the results do not depend on us as pastors becomes an issue of submission and trust in the Holy Spirit. How do we prevent from becoming lazy and unattached? My best answer is as we live Spirit-led lives following Jesus, we live faithfully to the calling we have received. While this does not mean that one should allow themselves to be abused by the church, it does confirm that we are intentionally focused on living a life that prioritizes pleasing the Father over people.

So, as it is true for all of us in our various vocations, callings and walks of life – may the Lord judge us with justice and mercy as we walk humbly before Him.

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