(The following is a transcript of Bill Hybel’s message “Stay Steadfast in Well Doing,” part three of the Steadfast series. The video is also available to you.)
This is gonna be quite a talk.
I’m gonna dazzle you as only I can dazzle you with artwork that’s gonna blow your mind. I’m speaking form one verse today. And from a single page of notes. Yeah. Usually... yep. Usually, that’s forty-five or fifty pages, and you watch me turn all those pages. Just one page today.
And what I just said caused some hope to dwell, or to well up, in you. Thinking it’s gonna be short. I will dash your hopes in five-minute increments. Just all throughout this talk. But here’s the one verse that I wanna draw your attention to today. Galatians 6:9: “Do not grow weary in well doing for we shall reap a reward if we do not give up.”
Now, to let this seep into your mind a little further, I would like to ask you to read this with me, from the screen, in full voice. One, two, three: “Do not grow weary in well doing for we shall reap a reward if we do not give up.”
Using the language of this series, Paul’s asking us to stay steadfast in well doing. “Would you stay steadfast in well doing? Because if you stay steadfast, you will reap a reward from God. And you will be glad at the end of your life that you were steadfast throughout your life in this thing called well doing.”
What is well doing? What does Paul have in mind when he’s talking about well doing?
It can be small, random acts of kindness throughout your day. It can be the little courtesies that you offer someone else. It can be kindhearted parenting or grand-parenting. It can be service in and around the church as you volunteer and serve. It can be something you do in your neighborhood. It could be a project at work. But the world needs well doers. And Paul says, “Some well doers get weary along the way, and they bail. And all this well doing that needs to get done doesn’t get done.” And he says, “Would you be a person who would be steadfast in doing all this good that needs to be done? And God will reward you if you stay steadfast in well doing.”
I’ve talked to you before about my dad. He died at fifty-two years of age. But he lived quite a life. He was a business person. He was a Christian. And he was quite a dominating figure. He was an imposing kind of personality. An adventurer—he flew his own airplanes, sailed a sailboat across the Atlantic Ocean. Bought and sold companies, high risk, all that—that kind of guy.
And, one thing that never kind of fit with his persona is something he did every single Sunday afternoon for thirty years. He learned that there was a group of mentally disabled, elderly women being warehoused in a crummy facility in downtown Kalamazoo. Their families had forgotten about them. No one ever visited them. There were no programs for them. These elderly women were simply hanging out in a terrible space waiting to die. Okay?
So he found that out, and he went down and visited with the administrator of this program, and he said, “This is terrible—that nobody cares for these mentally challenged women, and they’re just like hanging out till they die.”
And the administrator says, “No one’s interested in them.”
And my dad said, “Well, what if I were to put a one-hour program together on Sunday afternoons, where I could lead them in a little song time and have someone who can teach the Bible, give them a ten-minute message at a mental level that maybe they could derive some value.”
This guy said, “Anybody who wants to do anything to help these women is fine with me.”
So my dad would organize this. Got piano players and got local pastors and Bible teachers, and so. And, every Sunday, at 1:30, he would set up the chairs and he would greet all of these women, many of whom did not dress fashionably and did not have the social graces, if you know what I mean. And then he would say, “What songs do you wanna sing?”
And some old gal would say, “What a friend we have in Jesus.”
And my dad would say to the piano player, “Let’s do that one.” And he’d help them sing a few verses of that—he’d do that for about a half hour. And then a guy would give a little message, then he’d sing a couple more songs, and then he’d stand by the door and mercifully greet every single one of these women. And he would drag me along, and I would sit off to the side thinking, who is this man? Most people think of Harold Hybels in this whole other way. And here he is doing this invisible, behind-the-scenes... nobody ever said thank you for it, for him doing it. And he did it for thirty years. He would’ve done it the rest of his life, but he had a heart attack and died.
That had a profound effect on my life. Because I watched someone that I deeply respected be steadfast in well doing all the way to the end. And just as a little boy, I remember thinking, I wanna be someone who is steadfast in well doing, not someone who shows up and does a little stuff here and there and then bails for several years and then gets on the wagon again and then falls off and...
So, again, that had quite an effect on me. And I’ve asked myself many times, what was the secret to his steadfastness and well doing? Before I get into that, I look at you, and I see so many of you who have been steadfast in well doing, for decades. And you do it in your neighborhood, you do it at work—you’re just someone who does random acts of kindness, and you follow promptings from God, and you serve the poor, and you do all the kinds of things that our church does, and you just, you’re steadfast in well doing.
We just graduated three elders off our elder board. You know that we have four-year terms, and so we add a group of elders, and then some elders cycle off every year. And we just cycled off, just had a party, last week, for the three that are cycling off. One is a woman named Doreen, and she has been doing well doing around this church and in her career and so for almost forty years. She started with the church in the movie theater days. And when I made my comments about her, I said, “Hey, Doreen, there’s one thing I’m not worried about—is you sitting on the spectator bench when you’re done with your four years here as an elder. Cause you’ve been steadfast in well doing before you were an elder, and I know you’re gonna do it after you’re an elder.”
Guy named Mike has been serving in our church for twenty-one years in senior-leadership positions as a volunteer. And I’m not worried about him, either, because he’s gonna be steadfast in well doing.
Another woman is named Kim, who was serving, invisibly, around our church for fifteen years and then came on, served four years as an elder. And now she’s gonna become a board member for the Willow Creek Association. And, see, there are so many people—example after example of people who are steadfast in well doing, and I wanna ask you, are you... are you the kind of person that I am describing? Where you say, “One of the greatest joys and privileges of my life is to be the kind of person who sees good that needs to be done, and I do it joyfully, and I do it steadfastly, because of the work of God in me.
And I ask you, again, the question: What is the secret to staying steadfast in well doing? And, for the rest of my time, I’m gonna draw pictures for you, to help you understand the secret of staying steadfast in well doing.
So, the first one, is a picture about life management. And I’ve drawn this picture for you to reflect on before. Because I’ve asked the question: When you are all filled up with good-life energy, when your life-management skills are all in place, your spiritual practices are working for you, you’re good with God, your relationships are on a good note, and so, your family, your friends, that’s all going well. Your diet, your exercise, your recreation, your other engagements. When you’re doing life management in a very effective way, and you’re filled up, what I have learned is that it’s pretty easy to stay steadfast in well doing because you’re so filled up, you can just kind of overflow that spirit of fullness in these well-doing endeavors that cross your path.
What we get a little worried about, though, is what if you’re only at half tank? And then you start worrying a little bit more about your own depletion rate, and you look at opportunities to do good, and you go, “Hey, you know what, I’ve got my own problems. I’m not sure I have any energy to give to anybody else.”
And if you ever go to the condition that I’ve been in, more than once, if you’re ever on empty, you have basically nothing to give. You see all kinds of opportunity for well doing, and you’re just like, “Excuse me. I’m in a hole so deep, I can’t worry about anybody else—I gotta fix my own life.”
The time this occurred to me most dramatically was in the late eighties. Some of you veterans of Willow will remember—I went through a real deal in the late eighties. I allowed myself to get completely depleted. So much so that my family said to me, “You need to go on a vacation.”
And I said, “Where are we going?”
And they said, “No, no. We’re not going. You need to go on a vacation and fix your life.” And it was like an intervention.
So I went over to our little cottage in Michigan. And I get there, and I should be like excited, right? I have five days of solitude to reflect on my life. First thing I noticed is that Lynne did not leave any groceries in the cottage, and I was ticked. And I didn’t call her, which is a good thing. And then I remembered that the kids had had parties there, and I was like, “There’s no food in this—I underwrite this whole program! And there’s no food in this cottage.” I was in a pleasant mood, you see.
So I go to the store to pick up some groceries. And I picked up some groceries. And I’m not in a great mood. And I’m gonna go back to the cottage, and as I’m converging on the door leading out of the grocery store, I see a guy who I know a little bit from around town, who got his legs blown off in Vietnam. So he has to push himself in a wheelchair wherever he goes around the little city. And I’m walking toward the door. And he’s walking toward the door at the same time. And you know the thought that occurred to me? I thought, oh, great. Now I gotta probably open the door for him.
And I opened the door for him. And he thanked me, and I went, put the groceries on the front seat of my car, put my head on the steering wheel, and said, “Who have I become? Who have I become? When I am more concerned about being inconvenienced for fifteen seconds, opening the door for someone—when I’m more concerned about my inconveniencing than I am the condition of his life and a very bleak future cause his legs were blown off. Am I still a Christian? Who have I become?”
And that’s when I realized, after a lot of reflection, and some Christian counseling, that how you manage your life on a day-to-day basis determines, to a large extent, if you have the wherewithal, if you have the life energy, to do well doing in a steadfast fashion.
Again, I’ll go back to my dad. My dad, very busy guy, but he managed his life well. He had spiritual input. He had a lot of friends. He had recreations that kept him alive as a person, and a lot of the risky stuff he went into kept him motivated as an individual. And so my dad lived out of mostly full level. He was kinda up-tempo most of the time. And he had plenty in his life to overflow, to do well doing consistently.
I’m asking you the question: Do you... if I ask you right now, what level is your life at? Because of your life-management practices. Are you saying, “Hey, I’m full to overflowing—it’s pretty easy for me; I can see myself staying steadfast in well doing for a long, long time.”
Some of you go, “Yeah, not doing so well. There’s some stuff I need to get my act together about.”
Or if some of you are down here, where I was, you got a lot of work to do if you’re ever gonna be the kind of person who has something to give to those who need for us to give it to them.
So when I teach leaders around the world, I say, “Look, different things are gonna happen in your life. You’re gonna have a broken relationship. You’re gonna get sick. You’re gonna get a bad medical report. There’s gonna be some leakage that’s gonna tend to deplete your life-energy bucket,” which is why all of us need these streams of replenishment—this is so important. All of us have to take responsibility for these streams of replenishment that we continue to pour into our lives so that our buckets stay filled so that we can be steadfast well-doers for people who need for us to be.
What are your streams of replenishment?
Some of you, it’s your spiritual practices or your chair time.
Some of you, it’s time in a small group with your friends.
Some of it is recreations that you love, that fill you up. Some of it is, what, for me—when I spend time with Henry and Mac, my two grandsons, it fills me up. And other things—boating that I do. Sailboat racing, and so. But I am responsible to keep these streams of replenishment flowing into my life so that my bucket is full so that I can overflow and I can stay steadfast in well doing. Does this make sense to any of you? Does it? You look a little confused.
There’s a text in the Bible that speaks to this. It’s out of Romans 12. And this says, “Never be lacking in zeal but keep your spiritual fervor serving the Lord.” What it’s saying is this is your responsibility. It’s not my responsibility as your pastor to keep your bucket full. It’s not your spouse’s responsibility. This text says, “This is something you need to do. You need to keep your spiritual fervor high. You need to keep your bucket full.” So, as you do this, you’re gonna find yourself more steadfast in well doing.
Okay, let’s move on. There’s something else that I’ve talked to you about over the years that will help you be steadfast in well doing. And it has to do with spiritual gifts.
When you become a Christian, the Bible says, the Holy Spirit distributes spiritual capacities—divine capabilities—into your life so that you can become good at something that needs to be done in the church, in the community, or in the world. And there’s like eighteen or nineteen of these spiritual gifts. You’ve heard me talk about this over the years.
Now, what happens is, when you identify your spiritual gift, and you begin to deploy it, there’s such a fluidity in this, there’s such a joy in finding your gift and using it, that you begin to feel the thrill of God using your life. And when you feel God using your life for something good in the world, you wanna repeat that behavior. It helps you stay steadfast in well doing because you re-experience the thrill of God using your life.
So, go back to my dad. When it comes to spiritual gifts, his top spiritual gift was leadership. His second was mercy. And his third was giving. Okay? Now, think about this deal that he did with all those elderly women, okay? When we got the vision for helping those women, his leadership gift came into play. He just went right down to the administrator and said, “Just... clear a lane for me. Because, if you’ll stay out of my way, I’ll handle this whole thing. I’ll organize it. I’ll get the chairs. I’ll get the piano players. I’ll get the pastors. My lead—” he didn’t use this language; I’m putting these words in his mouth, but he would’ve, if he had this language, he would’ve said, “My leadership gift will make the organizing and the pulling of all this easy.” Cause that’s what leaders do. They have visions, they organize, they build teams, and they keep stuff going. Okay?
The second thing is my dad had a mercy gift. And this was very counterintuitive to his large persona. I think maybe part of it came because he had a mentally challenged brother who had some physical challenges, too. And he watched his brother be ridiculed for the early years of his life and on through junior high. And then, when he was early in high school, his brother was riding his bike one day, kinda lost control of it, and was hit by a car and killed. And I think that did something in my dad’s heart. And I think it did something with his spiritual gift of mercy. But my dad, who was a tough businessperson, treated those very unkempt and unattractive older, mentally unstable women with such kindness and tenderness that I knew, as a boy watching him, that was from God. That was God doing something through him that wasn’t natural for him.
But because that was a spiritual gift, it energized him. He loved using his gift of leadership and his gift of mercy.
His third spiritual gift was the gift of giving. He had the ability, as I’ve told you before, to earn large amounts of money. He had the joy of living within his means so that he could resource cool Kingdom stuff. So, when it came time to, who’s gonna buy the chairs and the hymnals, who’s gonna pay the piano player and the pastor, and all that, my dad said, “This is easy. I’m not gonna raise any money. I’m just gonna use my spiritual gift of giving.” And he underwrote the whole thing for thirty years.
But, see, when you’re in your spiritual giftedness, and you’re doing something God has called you to do, it actually energizes you in the doing of it, and, so, that keeps you steadfast.
I’ve told you before that I have three spiritual gifts. Leadership, evangelism, and teaching. I’ve also tried to help you understand that when you’re using your top spiritual gift—some of us don’t rank order our gifts, and we should—when you’re using your top spiritual gift, it actually gives you energy. You can’t believe God’s using you. You feel the fluid flow of the Holy Spirit through your life. Things come out of your mouth. It’s almost recreational, and you get done using that spiritual gift in whatever activity of well doing it is, and you go, “I can’t wait to do that again. Because I’m filled up.”
Same thing happens, maybe to a little lesser degree, with your second gift. Your third gift, and lower, that might be an energy draw, I don’t know. Teaching, as you know, is very hard for me. And it depletes me, actually, which is why, if I do too much of it, my bucket gets low.
So, anyway, find your spiritual gifts. Put them into play. Rank order them, and use your top two or three spiritual gifts for the most part in well doing, and you will have this regenerative-energy machine working in your life, and that’s gonna help you stay steadfast in well doing.
Before I move on, you don’t have to raise your hand... how many of you know your top three spiritual gifts? And how many of you know them in rank order? And how many of you are deploying them congruent with the order that God put them in your life? And do you feel this kind of energy, such that it makes you wanna do it again and again and again.
If you go, “Not so much,” well, then, you have some work to do.
We have a discover-your-spiritual-gift class starting in a couple weeks. Go to that. You can go online. Just google “spiritual gifts.” You’ll find eight million posts. And if you google “spiritual gifts,” and put my name after it, there’s like twenty-seven thousand posts because I’ve spoken about spiritual gifts quite a few times, and people have criticized me for it. You can read all the junk about it. That, I just said that to motivate you to do it, okay?
Now, here’s another way of looking at this. When we’re talking about, what are the secrets of staying steadfast in well doing? You’ve seen me draw this before. This is the Willow Creek swimming pool. And this is, after we talk about spiritual gifts, and we say, “You’ve gotta identify your spiritual gift. That’s your job—it’s not my job. It’s your job to identify your gift.” Once you get it identified, you’re standing out at the end of this diving board, and, sooner or later, you must deploy it. You have to take a risk and say, “I’m gonna use these gifts that God has entrusted to me for some well doing. In my neighborhood, in my church, in my job, in the world somewhere.” Okay?
So, sooner or later, as I explain it to people, you gotta jump into the pool. You just take a jump, and you go, “Maybe I’ll use my top spiritual gift in this particular volunteer activity. In this particular ministry endeavor. This challenge at work.” Whatever. Okay?
Now, the thing is, usually what happens is you do this for a while. And, again, a lot of teachers don’t wanna tell you this, but this is true. Most of the time, your first jump into the pool is a sort-of joyful experience. But you find out, “Oh, wait a minute. Maybe I jumped into the wrong endeavor. And maybe this particular group of people that I’m doing this with is not the right team for me to be with.” So you hang in there for a while—two, three, four months. And then what happens? It feels hard. And you get weary in well doing. And you look at the other—you look at the hard surface next to the swimming pool where all these beach chairs are, and you go, “You know what? This has gotten a little difficult. And I’m a little weary. Didn’t work out like I thought. I’m going to get out of the pool. I’m just gonna lay down on the beach chair for a while.” Okay?
This is what Paul was worried about when he said, “If you get weary in well doing, you’re likely to get out of the pool, and get out of the well-doing game, and then you’ll never get the rewards that God has promised for you. You won’t feel the thrill of God using your life, and the well doing that needs to be done in the world by you doesn’t get done. Everybody loses when you get out of the pool. Everybody.
So I talk to people all the time around the church here who describe, “Hey, you know, six years ago, I got involved in this. But it didn’t work out so well, so I only did it for three or four months.”
I go, “This is not new information for me.” Often, it takes several times of migrating to different parts of the swimming pool before you find something that’s really your sweet spot.
And then they’ll say, I say, “So what’d you do, after it didn’t go well?”
They essentially tell me they got out of the pool.
And I say, “So what are you doing now?”
And they go, “Nothing.”
And, again, I don’t have a mercy gift, so I can just say whatever I wanna say. And, so, all I say to people, “You don’t wanna stand before God someday and tell Him that you spent most of your Christian life on a beach chair, while everyone else you knew was doing something important in the pool.”
Right now, you’re being convicted by the Holy Spirit because you’re on a beach chair and you’ve been on one for a long time. I don’t care how much Scripture you know. I don’t care how often you can sing, “What a good, good Father.” I don’t care if you do chair time every single day. If that doesn’t all translate, at some point in time, for you finding your spiritual gift, diving off this board, and deploying using that gift for God’s glory for well doing in this world, I’m not impressed at all with your spirituality.
If there isn’t an activistic component to it, if you’re not, if it doesn’t have, you know, shoe-leather on your faith so that you’re doing something that needs to be done in the world, call yourself a Christian, I have very little respect for that kind of Christian. Give me someone who doesn’t know that much, who can’t sing that well, who misses a chair time once in a while, and who’s using their spiritual gift and doing well in the world consistently—now, I would wish for both, of course. But be careful that you’re not just a beach-chair gal, a beach-chair guy, talking a good game about your faith, but you’ve left the pool a long time ago. Get yourself back in the pool.
Now, one little nuance to this. Sometimes people will come to me, and they’ll say, “Hey, I’ve been in the pool for eighteen years. I’ve been doing this, and I feel restless.”
And I’ll say, “Hey, restless is not a problem. What’s the matter with restless?” And I’ll say, “What do you think’s at the root of the restlessness? Are you tired?”
They’ll go, “No, I’m filled up. I don’t feel tired.”
And I say, “Are you using the right spiritual gift?”
They go, “Yeah.”
And I say, “Well, why don’t you just use it in an entirely different environment? Go on, you know, do it at work instead of at church. Do it in the neighborhood. Do it at church in a different department. Whatever. Change the whole environment.”
They’ll say, “Is that legal?”
I’ll go, “Of course it’s legal.”
So they’ll experiment. And they’ll find a new part of the pool they never thought, you know, they’d enjoy. And then they do enjoy it. And then they catch a fresh wind. And they stay steadfast in well doing for another decade. Maybe that’s you.
Okay, moving along. I have a story to tell you before I give you the next secret of being steadfast in well doing.
There was a woman who had been to a church in another part of the United States. Grown up there. And then she moved to the Chicago area, and she had heard of Willow, and so someone said, “You ought to go there.” And so she came. And this was in the eighties. And so she talked to me, this would probably have been, you know, in the late nineties, or sometime, when she talked to me.
She said, “Hey, um... hey, listen. The church I came out of was so simple and so easy. We would just go for an hour, everyone would disappear for a week. And then we’d come back and assemble for an hour and sing a couple hymns and listen to a, you know, a semi-boring talk. And nobody took it seriously. It was all so easy. And now I come to Willow,” and she said, “I’m only here a couple months, and you get this conviction, this second conversion, that we shouldn’t only care about Willow Creek Church, but we should try to serve and help other churches all around the world prevail. And you started putting on these conferences to train pastors and to help under-resourced pastors get materials and so. Then you told us, you know, that we all needed to volunteer at these conferences and we needed to have international pastors stay in our home.”
I was just like, “What are you—”
“It’s too hard.” And she said, “Now, a few years after that, then there was the AIDS crisis.” She said, “We never talked about that stuff in my old church. And now you want us to raise money to give to people who misbehave”—that was her statement, not mine—“who misbehaved, caught AIDS, and now you think that’s our problem, and now we’re raising millions of dollars to help AIDS babies and so on the other side of the world.”
I said, “Yeah.”
And she said, “After that, then you got convicted about race, and you wanted our church to be made up of people who would be the first people in every social setting to reach across a racial or ethnic divide, so we would be bridge-building people. You told us that, even if we weren’t racist, we should do something to stop systemic racism that still exists in our culture today.” And she was like, “You’re just laying this on me. It just felt so heavy.
“And then, a couple years later, then it’s immigration. And you’re thinking that people who came here illegally should be able to be served by our Care Center. That was a problem. And then you did this Care Center and all that. Right during a recession, you wanted us to give to that.” Then she goes, “And the latest thing is prisoners. Christmas presents for prisoners.” And she says, “I... what’s up with you? My old church was just so simple and easy.”
And she says, “So what do you have to say to this?”
And I said, “You’re catching me a little off guard here, and this is quite a story you’re telling me. I think most of it’s true. Uh... I’ll get back to you.”
I honestly didn’t have an answer right at that moment. I was like, good point. Okay? I spent the next couple weeks journaling and praying and asking God about this. And I had what I thought was a breakthrough. And I think I’ve drawn this for you one other time. But what I concluded under the direction of the Holy Spirit is this woman had a dangerous mindset, or a dangerous model, of how compassion and justice works.
See, here was the model in her mind. She was unhappy, right? Real unhappy. And when you watch me draw her body, you’ll know why she was so unhappy. Now, she’s a woman, so I’ll give her a little of that. Like that. Okay.
I can’t take all the credit for that. But her mental model was that, every time our church was led by the Holy Spirit to get engaged in another well-doing activity—be it locally or globally—she goes, “Now you laid, you loaded this on my shoulder. Other churches. AIDS. Then you put race on my shoulders. And then you put immigration on my shoulders. Then you put poverty.” She goes, “After Celebration of Hope, it’s like three whole new things on my shoulder all the time. And now prisoners, you’re loading up.” She goes, “It’s just all too heavy.” Right? That’s what she was saying. She looked at engaging in well doing as burdens that she had to bear as opposed to opportunities that would give her the potential of growing her capacity to love. Which is the last picture I want to show you.
When you became a Christian, the Bible says your heart was dead to things of God. Your heart was dead. You didn’t communicate with God. You didn’t care about God. You didn’t worship God. You didn’t care about the things God cares about in the world. Your heart was dead. Ephesians 2: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins. But Christ made you alive through his redemptive work in the cross.”
So God gave you a new heart. Now, it was tiny. You remember how tiny your heart was right after you became a Christian. And then, through teaching of God’s word, and joining a small group, and being a part of a vibrant church, and so, and through worship and all the rest of this stuff, you started to feel your heart growing. And, the Holy Spirit—one of the fruits of the Spirit is that the Spirit increases your capacity to love. So the way spiritual formation actually works is, the longer you hang around God, and the longer you keep saying yes to the Holy Spirit, your capacity to love increases. And if you’re in a church that is engaged in things of the world, when a new opportunity, like race, comes along, you think about it, and you say, “Is it a burden on my shoulder, or is it an opportunity for me to grow in my capacity to love across racial lines?” And then you say, “God, would you increase my capacity to love people who are different from me?”
And then God gives you that extra capacity and produces... it actually becomes a joyful thing to love across racial lines. And then, when you hear about the poor and you’re like, “Oh my gosh! You know, what, what are you doing to loaden that on my shoulder?” If your heart is growing right, you say, “Oh, it must be horrible to go to bed hungry every night. It must be horrible to walk six miles for clean drinking water.” And you think about that. And God increases your capacity to love. And now you care for the poor. And you do stuff joyfully for them.
And it even gets to the point where you go, “Refugees. Or prisoners.” And each time, you just go, “Oh, God, I don’t understand this. And I had an aversion to it before. But please increase my capacity to love.”
And as this all happens, you wind up several years hence, and none of this feels like a burden. And your heart easily has capacity for joyful engagement in all of this. And you actually go to bed at night sometimes saying, “Hey, God, if there’s another well-doing opportunity, if there’s another something that’s broken in this world that You would increase my heart to be able to address, I’m game.”
Gang, do you understand this—the difference between this and this? Let me know—do you... understand the difference between this and this? This is the ball game.
Now, two more quick things, and then we’ll be done. Still on page one.
It says, back to the verse, “Don’t grow weary in well doing for we shall reap a reward.” What is this reward business?
Truthfully, I don’t know. It doesn’t say, “God’s gonna reward you with cash.” It doesn’t say, “He’s gonna reward you with two years more of life.” “He’s gonna reward you by this or that or this or that.”
I’ve never understood God’s reward system. There are several places in Scripture that God says, “If you will, if you do this, I will pour my favor out on your life.” But I will tell you this: as my heart has grown, and as I’ve tried to be steadfast in well doing, I have felt a kind of cosmic favor on my life. I’ve been protected from some terrible things. I’ve had some doors open for me that never should’ve opened for me. I have some family blessings that take my breath away. I feel like God has rewarded me even though I can’t point to, you know, because I did this, I got that. I just feel like I live a God-rewarded life every day. Do some of you feel that way? That’s... just how it is?
Finally, sometimes, you need a hero figure. When you think about being steadfast in well doing, it just helps to have a model or an example that you can point to. We have one in this church. You’ve heard me talk about him before. Dr. B, who was my college professor who instilled in me a love for the Acts 2 church and who inspired me to start this church. Who’s been my mentor for forty-five years now. And, you know, he had a tremendous effect on this church for the first thirty-five years of it. And he was a professor at Wheaton College. And then he retired, and so. And all he has done his whole life has been steadfast in well doing.
He meets with people that no one else would spend the time to meet with. When young pastors are confused, they go down to him and sit in his back yard, and he’ll spend all afternoon just helping a young pastor get on track. He helps marriages of people who are fighting with each other and so. He’s just been a steadfast person in well doing. So he’s gonna be ninety in a couple weeks. And the elders are having a really cool event in a couple weeks. And we thought it’d be cool to maybe combine his birthday with this other elder thing that we’re gonna do. And so I called him. And I said, “Dr. B, you know, how are you doing, and, you know, I heard you’re 118 now.” I always kid him about that. And, uh, and I said, “Would you be willing to make this event”—I didn’t wanna tell him we wanted to mix it with a surprise birthday party thing.
And he goes, “Oh, Bill, I’m not gonna be able to make that.”
And I said, “What are you gonna be watching TV? What do you got going on?”
He said, “I’m gonna be in France.”
He grew up as a refugee in France in World War II. Ran for his life during his junior-high and high-school years, during the German occupation. Became a Christian in his late high-school years. And has dreamed his whole life of having... being a part of one vibrant church in France. Because, if you know that country, it’s in terrible shape with regard to churches. And I’ve gone to France maybe fifteen times to teach pastors, and, sometimes, only eight or ten will come. I go to Germany? Eight thousand. Go to France? Eight. It’s just defeating, friends. Every time I’ve been to France to try to stir up the church, I go, “Never again. I’d rather get sick in India than I would, you know, have nobody show up in France.”
And here’s Dr. B, turning ninety, and he goes, “I think I found a church that I can stir up in France.”
And I go, “Dude, you’re my hero. You have been steadfast in well doing. Your whole life.”
And that inspires me. Does that inspire you?