If you have come to the point in your spiritual life where you are primarily on the giving end of the ministry (I say ‘primarily’ here because we never outgrow our need to grow) then you understand this feeling; the feeling that you care, at times, more about the direction of another person’s life than they do. My encouragement to you is don’t quit. Do not grow weary in well doing. The work, regardless of how it may seem at times, is indeed it worth it. I think sometimes we forget where we were when some child of God loved us and pursued us persistently despite our greatest efforts to resist, and our unwillingness to listen. I think sometimes we fail to simply consider, with reference to the path we were on, where we would be today had there not been men and women in our lives to reach out to us, guide us, encourage us, challenge us, and at times rebuke us. It is amazing the impact one person can have on the life of another. Don’t quit. Even if the effort seems to have little effect now, it could have major implications down the road. An eighth of an inch shift in the direction of the barrel can make a world of difference for a marksmen shooting at a target 200 yards away.
If you read this and you are primarily on the receiving end of ministry for now (I say ‘primarily’ and ‘for now’ because even the youngest child, spiritually, can serve, and every child of God ought to grow), understand this is what is going through the heart and mind of those who have spent time and energy reaching out to and investing in you. We feel about you, I think, the way John felt about Gaius. Not because we think you are little kids and we have attempted to “train you up”, but because whether it has been the chief investment or not in your spiritual growth, we have attempted to invest. Therefore because of the investment made we care very much. It brings such great joy, in fact, folks who truly have a heart to minister can say that there are few things that bring greater joy than seeing you, as John says, walking in truth. My encouragement to you is: Don’t disregard the counsel of those who care for you spiritually. Don’t get frustrated with their ‘prying’ and ‘meddling’ ways. Don’t grow impatient with their efforts to guide and encourage you. Be thankful they are there. Be thankful because, whether you realize it or not, they care, probably more than you know.
We all need to be reminded from time to time that this life we live will outlive us. What we do matters beyond the few days God has blessed us with here on this earth. We need to remember that as we grow we are responsible to help others grow. We need to remember that we need to grow and therefore should welcome the help of others in that endeavor. In 3 John we have “children” or those primarily being invested in, and we have those primarily doing the investing. We all have been and are to be both. Let us now be what we are so that we might be what we ought to be.