As a pastor, I get to watch people change. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, certain people do not change for the better. Also as a parent, I get to watch my children change. And again, it is not always in the ways that I hope for them to change. Everyone has someone in their life that needs help towards the right direction. It is difficult when you realize that you cannot directly change the person yourself. It could be a spouse that needs to mature, a co-worker that needs salvation, a child that needs better habits. For some reason, no amount of direct rebukes, subtle hints, or outright pressure seem to fix their problems.
Souls cannot be changed by man’s efforts. If you don’t believe me, ask any parent of a teenager. You can control their behavior, but you cannot transform their hearts. Transformation is the Lord’s work.
After years of disappointment and even blaming myself for the lack of progress I would see in carnal Christians, unbelievers, and even my own children, I have come to the glorious epiphany that I did not have the power to change them after all. Consequently, I relinquished the burden of having to see the results in the people I felt responsible for. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
I am not a potter, where I can mold and bend souls according to my will. Rather, I am a sower. We all are. Sow the right seeds, and the right harvest will arise in due time. The same concept applies to bad seeds as well. Every seed has a consequence, which is why we must be aware of what we say and what we do unto others. Every word, prayer, gesture, and service has a ripple effect on a soul.
As a child, my mother constantly told to me about the importance of having an organized life. It drove me up the wall. I would retaliate and sometimes behave contrary to her expectations, just to make a point. It turned out that one of her everyday prayers for me was to have a sense of order in my life. I thought that that was such a bizarre thing to pray for. But years passed, I grew out of my combative teenage years and experienced my twenties. Then, somewhere in the midst of growing up, I had this desire to become a more organized person. It was a gradual development, but the main fruit of it is in the fact that, today, I can run both a household of six and a church ministry with balance and peace. Anyone in my life right now will tell you that I am a person of order. I give thanks to God for this. I also give credit to my mother who sowed those seeds in me even when I showed no signs of changing.
One day, it will click. Just wait for that moment. Believe for that moment. A sign that you have not given up on someone would be if that person still remains in your prayers. I did youth ministry for a decade. I know what it’s like to see no fruit in someone for years. Yet, there is always that one day when they just get it. A revelation hits. A shift occurs in their spirit. Repentance and transformation occurs. Fruit happens.
So, if you are a mentor to quite the rebel or a friend to a stubborn coworker, take heart. You can’t change them. That’s not your job. Instead, your job is to sow into them. So, sow wisely. Sow persistently. The harvest will come.
“So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)