The Misleading Pain of Ineffectiveness

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One of the Biblical Counseling Trust of India (BCTI) trainers was coaching a local leader who is gifted in the area of preaching, discipleship and the knowledge of both English and the local language. The potential for effectiveness of this leader in the area of Asia we work in is exceptional. As he was listening to this leader, it was obvious they were weighing whether to stay in Asia or work in another area of the world almost solely based on the evaluation of their “personal effectiveness”. As they talked the leader shared how they had made sacrifices, and came to this place partly based on the assumption of how effective they would be. They felt torn between God’s obvious calling and blessing on them here and “missing the mark” of what they had hoped to accomplish in this place.

Another leader who was in a BCTI group for leaders was discouraged and frustrated because of lacking the resources to accomplish what they felt the Lord had led them to. They were calculating and recalculating how to “make do” with the resources they had. The loss and anger in their eyes said they were very discouraged. They too, when they measured themselves by the yardstick of “personal effectiveness” came up short.

One theme that runs through the Bible is that God is very interested in transforming the hearts of His people through the difficulties of this life [1]. One of the themes that runs through present day humanity is the desire to have a “personally effective” life. Sometimes God allows his sons or daughters to go through a time of being “ineffective” in order to humble them. Sometimes when an “ineffective” leader realizes they can do little on their own, God chooses to do something through them that is bigger than what they had envisioned. Other times, the fruit of what they have done isn’t seen at all during their lifetime; It is only after they have passed away that the fruit of their labor is revealed.

Jesus even experienced the pain of “personal ineffectiveness”. Listen to the words of God’s commissioned Messiah in response to God’s call. God says, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” Isa 49:3. The Messiah responds, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the Lord’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” Isa 49:4. As a human being, why wouldn’t Jesus feel this way? The nation He came to bring back to God had him executed as a liar and a traitor. His physical life didn’t end in comfort or success; it ended alone, poor, with followers who scattered when He was arrested. At that point, if Jesus was measured with the yardstick of “personal effectiveness” he would have come up short. Yet we know this was God’s will and His plan to use Jesus “useless” work to bring His people from all the nations back to Himself.

One of BCTI’s roles is to walk alongside leaders and help them focus on what is going on in their own hearts, so they can continue to serve God with right motives. We do this by providing a safe & truthful enviornment for leaders to open up about what is really going on inside. Through questions and the reflection of God’s Word leaders have the opportunity to continue to cooperate with God in the process of change.

Through God’s comfort and conviction and BCTI’s ministry, both of these leaders are pressing forward. It was refreshing to hear one of these discouraged leaders come to terms with their own limitations. There literally is nothing they can do to move forward in this area of their own life and ministry. It is exciting to see them choose to trust God, waiting to see how He’s going to work, rather than berate themselves because they feel “ineffective”. Both leaders are choosing to trust and obey God through their season of difficulty.

[1] Deut 8:2-5, Romans 5:3-4, James 1:2, 1 Peter 1:6-7

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  • For more believers to become trained mental health professionals, able to fulfill a vital role in the holistic care that is needed. (In the whole country there are only about 50 Christian psychiatrists. Proportionately that would be about 13 in the whole of the US, one Christian psychiatrist for every four states!)


  • For those whoed training held in May —mental health professionals, church leaders, cross-cultural workers, teachers attend, etc—that we will continue our ministry with a better understanding of mental health issues and have wisdom about ways we can help!


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