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Just Do Your Part

April 01, 2016

Your efforts may not look like much, but they matter.

FROM A SERMON BY Peter Sletmoe

Recently the question came to me, If I could go back to when I was a brand new Christian and speak a word of encouragement to my newly saved self, what would I say? I concluded that I would probably say the same thing my youth pastor said to me back then. I would like to share with you the advice he gave me, because it did me a lot of good and I believe it will help you as well.

First, you need some of the back story. I was saved at age seventeen in my bedroom. It was a Tuesday night, a couple weeks after special meetings in Portland, Oregon. Up to that point I had been unstable spiritually, but that night I prayed, “God I want You to do something real in my life. I want You to settle the Gospel so deep down in my heart that I never have to wonder again if I’m saved.” It was a simple prayer, but the answer was definite. God saved my soul and from that day to this, I have been walking with Him. Two nights later, God sanctified me. A couple of weeks after that, at a combined youth meeting in Chehalis, Washington, God came down in a way that defies description and filled me with His Holy Spirit.

By camp meeting time that year, I had been saved for about three months. As camp progressed, God began to call some deeper consecrations from me. He talked to me about my future, asking me if I would be willing to serve Him in whatever capacity He chose, and if I would do it with my whole heart. To be honest, I was scared by what God was asking of me. I began to feel overwhelmed, unsure of what to do about everything God was bringing up and where it was leading.

Feeling desperate, I told my youth pastor what was going on. We were sitting in the tabernacle before an evening service, and I will never forget the advice he gave me. The essence of it was this: “You’re not God. You don’t have to do it all. Just do your part.” He helped me see that the reason I was feeling overwhelmed was because I was thinking I had to do things that only God can do. He explained to me that I wasn’t the one who created the universe and it wasn’t my job to figure out how to keep it running. Nor did I need to figure out how to make the Gospel go forward, or how to make all the pieces of my life fit together perfectly. That is God’s job, not ours. We only have to do our part.

This idea of “just do your part” is fundamental to the Gospel; if you start looking for examples in Scripture, the list has no end. From cover to cover the Bible is filled with stories of people who could not do it all, but did their parts, and it was enough because God took care of the rest. One of the most prominent examples is the feeding of the five thousand, which is recorded in all four of the Gospels. That day, Jesus was in a wilderness area and a great multitude went to see Him. He taught the people all day long, and at evening the disciples told Him that He should send the people away so they could eat. Jesus responded, “We don’t need to send them away. You feed them.”

What a challenge! Phillip said, “Lord, even if we had two hundred pennies’ worth (about six months’ wages) of bread it wouldn’t be enough to buy food for everyone.” The crowd was huge—at least five thousand men, plus women and children. Eventually the disciples found a young boy who had brought a lunch to the gathering, but all he had was five loaves of bread and two fishes. Andrew saw the contents of his lunch and remarked, “What is that among so many?”

That is often how we feel when we contrast our abilities with the problems we encounter. When we evaluate what we have to offer, we will see that at best, it is ridiculously insignificant compared to the enormity of the needs around us. However, we have to remember: God doesn’t expect us to do it all; He only expects us to do our part. The boy who gave his lunch did not go home to get more food or find other recruits. He simply gave what little he had and let God handle the matter. The Bible tells us that Jesus blessed what the boy offered, broke it, and then used it to feed the multitude. The power to do the miracle didn’t come from the boy; it came from God.

Even though our part is small, it will not necessarily be easy. In fact, sometimes our part, as insignificant as it is, still seems impossible. For myself, a declared introvert, standing up to preach feels impossible! Yet God still expects us to do our part, and if we ask, He will give us the strength and grace to do it. In that sense, He actually helps us with our part too. All we need to offer is willing obedience. And when we do that, He will do the same thing with our lives that He did with the boy’s lunch: He will bless it, break it, and use it to meet the needs of others. The Gospel will go forward if you and I each do our part.

After that talk with my youth pastor, a couple of months went by and then one afternoon at a choir practice the director said, “I need a volunteer to stay after meeting and pick up songbooks.” Not a single hand raised. We were all sitting there, young people on fire for God, and we were thinking, C’mon. Give us a real job in the Gospel. There are people dying in the world; we want to do something that actually matters. Nobody volunteered. Then God started tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Don’t you want a job in the Gospel? Take it or leave it.” So I volunteered. I became the songbook collector and I held that job for about two-and-a-half years, picking up songbooks and straightening chairs every Sunday evening after the youth meeting. And during that time, my heart was knit to the Gospel by a couple of hundred songbooks. While I was doing my job, communication was happening between the Lord and me. God would say, “This is what you’re supposed to be doing. I want your all in the little things. The little things make a difference.” I would respond, saying, “God, I just want to do my part. Even though it’s not much, I want to do my part.” Songbooks are not a big thing, but songbooks changed my life. Spiritually, I am where I am today in part because of them.

Songbooks are an example of how “just doing your part” makes a difference. While they are not going to independently cause people to come to Jesus in repentance, they are a piece of the big picture of the Gospel. Before a church service can a happen, someone must clean the church, music is prepared, prayers go up, songbooks are set out, and many other small tasks are done. Then, when a burdened soul comes to a service and prays through to victory, everyone who did his small part shares in that success. That really is how the Gospel works. Our part, in the grand scheme of things, is insignificant. But when you do your part and I do my part, God does His part and the Gospel goes forward.

Certainly, I don’t mean to suggest that songbooks are the purpose of anyone’s existence. Still, it highlights the fact that most of the things that must happen in order for the Gospel to go forward are small tasks that anyone who is saved could do. It’s things like doing our devotions every day, being in the prayer room before service, and helping out where we can. When an opportunity arises for you to participate in the Lord’s work, apply these basic principles: 1. Show up on time; 2. Be faithful; 3. Have a smile on your face; 4. Work hard while you’re there; 5. Stay until the work is done. If you can master these five points, you can work for the Lord. That’s really all you have to do.

Right now, you might be feeling the way I did when I went to my youth pastor with a heavy heart. Perhaps you are carrying a burden that seems overwhelming. Maybe your burden is that you have not yet given your life to God—if that is the case, you need to be saved! The Gospel will change your life and give you peace, hope, and a purpose. The devil will tell you that God won’t save you, and even if He did, how would you ever keep it? How could you live a new life in front of your friends? How could you prove to them that the Gospel works and that you’re different? The list goes on and on. Remember—you’re not God. You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to figure out how God saves people, or how God answers prayers, or how God is ever going to keep you once you’re saved. Just do your part. The Bible says all you have to do for your part is forsake that old life, turn to God in repentance and faith, and He will save you.

Whatever problem you might be facing today, just remember that you’re not God. You don’t have to do it all. Just do your part. As we do our part, God will take over and do the rest.

About the author

Peter Sletmoe is a minister at the Apostolic Faith Church in Grants Pass, Oregon.