Weary In Well Doing

By: Dr. Gregory S. Neal

Many years ago I met an amazing fellow named Ted. He was a man of great vision, sparkling dreams, wonderful enthusiasm, and boundless energy. He had a refreshingly positive personality: there wasn’t a problem that couldn’t be solved, there wasn’t an idea that couldn’t be thought, there wasn’t an objective that couldn’t be reached if one put one’s mind and heart to work. Ted was that kind of man. He had a soul that was beautiful and a magnetic, energetic spirit that didn’t know the meaning of the words “can’t” or “quit.” He was the kind of guy that most people wanted to be around because his attitude was absolutely infectious.

The church cured him of this. Now, before you start speculating, please know that I’m not pointing the finger of blame at any particular church or denomination. While there is a culprit congregation, I’m really not interested in them: my focus is the systemic problem of dead institutions, stifling organizations, and “church-type people” in general. Ted’s heart and mind was bright and alive, and all he wanted to do was serve the Lord with the gifts he had been given. But the church wouldn’t have any of it; no, indeed, rather than put Ted’s energy and vision to good use, the Church killed him instead. Not literally, mind you; Ted is still alive today, working as an investment banker. He is breathing, healthy, wealthy, and happy ... more or less. He goes to church on Sundays, pays his tithes, and prays his daily prayers. But he doesn’t volunteer to serve. He doesn’t voice any ideas. He doesn’t offer any vision. No, he learned – long ago, and with much pain and anguish – that these things are not wanted in the church. After several years of offering his best, only to be rejected by the “never-done-it-that-way-before” factions of the church, Ted became “weary in his well doing.” I can hardly blame him.

It is very easy to become “weary in our well doing.” If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all felt that way several times before; and not just with the church. When we put time, energy, hopes, and dreams on the line in a project, and things don’t turn out the way we planned or expected, it can be very disappointing. It is even more disheartening when people whom we love, trust, and lean on don’t come through with the effort, support, and presence that we had – perhaps unreasonably – anticipated. Like Ted, we can be full of ideas, vision, and energy, but if we are continually being rebuffed, rejected, and ignored by those who ought to be helping, it becomes difficult to carry forward.

We, as a people of faith and as the family of God, are called to uphold each other and, in turn, be fueled and empowered ourselves, through our prayers, our presence, our gifts, and our service. Sadly, if we take an honest look at our lives, many of us will have to admit that we’ve not always done this. And, as a result, some have become “wearing in their well doing.”

Paul’s words from Galatians 6 are powerful, and instructive, on this score. He wrote:

If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit. So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up. So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith. (Galatians 6:8-10)

I put it to you: where are you sowing your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service? Are you sowing them in and through the Kingdom of God, or are you sowing to yourself all that you have and are? Are you attending to the means of grace through worship, study, prayer, service, giving, and the sacraments, or are you forsaking the fellowship of the family of faith and investing all of your time, talents, gifts, and graces in yourself and your own selfish interests? In other words, have you become weary in your well doing? If you've not recently attended worship, if you've not prayed, if you've not partaken of the sacraments, if you've not studied the Holy Word of God or heard it preached, if you've not offered your hands and hearts in service to God and God's children, if you've not given of your temporal and financial resources to the ministry to which God has called you, I encourage you to return. By not being present in the family of God, and by not participating in the many means of grace, you are starving yourself and the Body of Christ -- you are not sowing to the Spirit, you are sowing to your flesh. As much as we would like to fool ourselves, when we sow to the flesh all we get is death ... all that we have sown in ourselves will die with us. This is so very tragic, and so very unnecessary. We miss you! If you’ve not prayed, I challenge you to get on your knees and pray for our nation, state, cities, and church. If you’ve not paid your tithe (and many of us haven’t), I implore you to remember to do so in the coming days. And, if you’ve not offered your service to God, we’ve got many needs in and around our congregation where service can do great good. Just ask!

My sisters and brothers, do not become weary in your well doing. Rather, “let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.”

© 2004 Dr. Gregory S. Neal
All Rights Reserved

Stacks Image p13_n9
The Reverend Dr. Gregory S. Neal is the Senior Pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Commerce, Texas, and an ordained Elder in the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. A graduate of Southern Methodist University, Duke University, and Trinity College, Dr. Neal is a scholar of Systematic Theology, New Testament origins, and Biblical Languages. His areas of specialization include the Theology of the Sacraments, in which he did his doctoral dissertation, and the formation and early transmission of the New Testament. Trained as a Christian educator, he has taught classes in these and related fields while also serving for more than 25 years as the pastor of United Methodist churches in North Texas.

As a popular teacher, preacher, and retreat leader, Dr. Neal is known for his ability to translate complex theological concepts into common, everyday terms. HIs preaching and teaching ministry is in demand around the world, and much of his work can be found on this website. He is the author of several books, including
Grace Upon Grace: Sacramental Theology and the Christian Life, which is in its second edition, and Seeking the Shepherd's Arms: Reflections from the Pastoral Side of Life, a work of devotional literature. Both of these books are currently available from Amazon.com.