I’ve started two churches in my life and both times there were occasions in the beginning when I could put the entire church in my car and take them out to eat! (I didn’t have an SUV either, if you know what I mean.) It didn’t feel great but it was what it was.
Thankfully we didn’t stay at that size for long but even after Fusion had grown into something much larger I would still occasionally find myself teaching a membership class that was less than full or leading a small group that’s closer to date than a group. It’s humbling to be sure but when you find yourself in these situations it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, it’s a time to grow and an opportunity to honor God.
In the Old Testament, Joseph was a gifted young man. He saw and interpreted great dreams from God and he had a very bright future ahead of him. The road to that bright future, however, took many detours that Joseph couldn’t have predicted. It seemed his life was one misfortune after another when at one point he found himself in the bowels of an Egyptian prison with a few other misfits.
While there, a fellow prisoner had a dream and Joseph had an opportunity to use his God-given gift to help this man that in all probability could never help him. This opportunity provided Joseph with a great decision. He could help this fellow or give up and refuse to exercise his gift. In some ways, this event became the defining moment in his life.
Joseph helped his fellow misfit out and that individual ended up out of prison and serving the king in no time. Later, when the king was troubled with a perplexing dream, the man remembered Joseph’s gift and ministry and mentioned him to the king. The king called for him and through a series of events Joseph ended up becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt (only behind the king himself) and his life was forever changed.
From Joseph’s story we can take away four key points.
1. Realize Numbers Don’t Validate Gifts
You gift is a God-given gift even if the number of people you minister to is less than impressive. You must determine to always use your gift. Never be shy to use your gifts for God. Don’t wait for numbers to validate you, your gift, or your ministry. God is the one that validates his servants and fruit proves the value of a gift.
2. Swing for the Fences with Your Gift
Don’t just use your gift in some sort of halfhearted way. Always use it completely. Give it all you’ve got every time you use it. Use your gifts even when you don’t think the impact is going to be very huge. Preach like you’re preaching to 10,000 people even when you’re only teaching 10. You never know what God is doing and He is probably going to use your obedient service in ways to change both your life and the lives of others.
3. Be Generous Even When You’re Poor
Joseph was in prison and things weren’t looking very good for him and yet he determined in his heart to help someone else. This is critical. You must make a conscious decision to always give freely what you have freely received. You must focus on others even when you feel like your dreams are on hold. This is hard to do at times but it’s a major key to the way God works in our lives. The simple truth here is give and it will be given to you.
4. Prepare for Where You’re Headed, Not Where You Are
Joseph’s attitude and actions were exactly what they needed to be for God to do something amazing in his life. In a way, Joseph was preparing himself for the blessings that God was about to bring to him. You must always be prepared for the moment when God will radically and supernaturally promote you. In one day God took Joseph from prisoner to vice president. God can do that in your life too but you must prepare. How? Well, you’ve got to decide that you are going to be faithful in the small things so that He can trust you in the big things. Joseph was faithful in so many “small” ways throughout his life that God knew that he was ready for the big things.