Transcript: Welcome friends! It’s time for another episode of A Clear Lens Podcast! My name is Nate Sala, and I’m glad you’re listening. If you are feeling frustrated, perhaps impatient, because you have the desire to serve God (whether that be through evangelism or apologetics or other means) but it seems like things are just not happening, there is no opportunity for you, then I want you to listen to this message, and I hope it encourages you.
I was chatting with a friend of mine who has the strong desire to serve full time in ministry, but he’s not quite sure how that should all play out. He’s got a full time job right now, a wife, and kids, and obviously whatever he decides will affect his family, especially if they have to relocate. I mean, he is actually talking about leaving the country for missions, but in the meantime what he’s doing is serving here locally in Las Vegas, when he can, and just praying and asking God for wisdom and clarity on a clear path for ministry.
There were two things that I told my friend, and I would argue that these two pieces go together; they’re like two sides of the same coin. Okay? The first thing I told my friend was: “The servant of God matters just as much as the service to God.”
We Christians are characterized as being the Body of Christ. And there are different parts of the body that we all represent, like someone is a hand, another one is an arm, Logan is the hair. We all, as Peter said, use our gifts to serve one another, to serve the same body. But we bring more to the service table than our mere gifts. We also bring our baggage. And I’ve seen more missteps arise out of thinking only in terms of our gifting and ignoring our baggage.
When I was saved in 2009, I remember immediately sensing an overwhelming desire to help my brothers and sisters. From my perspective, I saw an intellectually weak church in need of evangelistic training in the 21st century. And I remember feeling so protective of them, like I needed to take the church under my wing and care for them. So I started reading some apologetics books. Again, this was almost 10 years ago now. But you know what? God didn’t put me on stage right away. As a matter of fact, the first time I had the opportunity to speak at a youth group was 3 years later.
Now, some people might get frustrated in that time of waiting. Because the desire is real, ladies and gentlemen. The burden that God places on your heart, however that may be expressed in service, can even be overwhelming at times! I had a lot of nights where I laid awake staring at the ceiling just asking God when will I be able to help? How much longer must I wait? I know friends of mine who’ve gotten so frustrated with the waiting that they’ve jumped ahead of God’s timing. That’s a big mistake. And I know others who’ve gotten so tired of waiting that they have given up altogether.
I realize, now looking back, one of the reasons I had to wait so long was: my pride needed to be dealt with. See, before I was saved, I was someone who was very proud to say: I don’t suffer fools gladly. And I loved to tear people apart with my words and my quick wit. Because what was most important to me was appearing smarter than everyone in the room. It gave me so much pleasure and delight to dress someone down, especially in front of others, to just get that last zinger in, and then watch them get flustered and stumble and back their way out of the conversation. If I perceived ignorance, I had zero charity, zero grace.
But then one day, God gave me His grace and He saved me, in spite of my deep, ugly pride and all the rest of my detestable sins. He chose me and gave me grace. The desire to help my brothers and sisters immediately dropped on my shoulders, I sensed it right away. But the opportunity to do something about it did not come. That’s because my lessons in grace and true humility were still yet to take place. Now, imagine if God had immediately put a prideful person like myself in a position of influence to train Christians. I was nowhere near prepared on a spiritual level to be in that kind of position. My ego and pride would have ruined everything!
So God spent years and years working on me. As a matter of fact, even after I spoke to that youth group, I didn’t get another opportunity to do something like that again for another five years. But here’s the thing I learned in the process: “The servant OF God matters just as much as the service TO God.” And there are no shortcuts to this preparation process!
A.H. Strong tells a story about an impatient student. So the story goes, the student approached the President of the school and asked him if he could take a shorter class than the one offered. The President said, “Oh yes, you can! But it depends on what you want to be. See when God wants to make an oak, He takes a hundred years. But when He wants to make a squash, He takes six months.”
I’ll say it again, friends: “The servant of God matters just as much as the service to God.”
Okay, then, so God makes us wait. And He prepares us for service before He sends us. I see now that God made me wait so long because He was dealing with my pride. But in that waiting period, I was not idle. And that brings me to the second thing I told my friend: “As you wait on God, He develops in you what He wants to say through you.”
Friends, I started A Clear Lens as a personal blog back in 2013. By then, I had been studying theology and apologetics for about four years. But if I’m being completely transparent with you, I had nothing unique to say. If you go back to those first few posts (and you can if you do a deep enough search) I was simply parroting well known apologists, like William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland and Greg Koukl. I mean, those were the guys I read constantly, so of course I just regurgitated what they said.
I didn’t understand yet what this ministry could become or how A Clear Lens would be able to train up Christians to effectively communicate in today’s culture. The only thing I understood was: I was about to become a teacher. That’s what God was doing in my immediate circumstances, at the time. Now, the desires of my heart hadn’t changed in the slightest! I still wanted to help my brothers and sisters, and I had no idea how becoming a public high school teacher would fit into all of that, but I just did it anyway. God gave me the opportunity and I put 100% of myself into teaching. And here’s what happened, I started engaging with all kinds of students: gang members, juvenile delinquents, disabled, behavioral issues, mental issues, skeptics, atheists, buddhists. I watched a lot of them walk into my classroom completely checked out, didn’t want to hear what I had to teach. And I had to learn how to get them engaged with my lessons. And over the years, trying different methods and failing, and then going back into the Gospels and studying how Jesus taught and engaged His audiences, I finally learned how to get difficult people engaged with what I wanted.
And then bingo! That’s when I finally had something to say. The moment I figured that out, God put me back in front of different audiences — teaching First Date Evangelism. And the opportunities have not stopped since.
So if you have certain desires that you know God has burdened you with, but it seems like nothing is happening at the moment — let me encourage you with two truths! “The servant OF God matters just as much as the service TO God,” and “As you wait on God, He develops in you what He wants to say through you.”
So be encouraged friends! Be patient. Trust God and be diligent with every single thing that He places in front of you.