Faithfulness is Right in Front of You

by Grace Sutton February 25, 2022

“What are you doing now?”

I stuttered to answer.

My friend and I were discussing various internships I was considering when he focused my plans back on the present.

Sitting in my school’s student center that day, I felt like a nobody on the brink of failure for not taking enough opportunities. I was “merely” a college student and a church member, working a part-time job—nothing more.

Before I could answer out loud, my friend reminded me of all my current responsibilities and encouraged me to “just be faithful.” Having years of ministry experience himself, I took his words as an encouragement (maybe I wouldn’t be a failure if none of the internships worked out), but I didn’t want to take the advice. I still wanted to focus on what opportunities were around the corner.

Two years after that conversation, I’ve been graciously given opportunities to learn and do more than I ever expected. Although I’m no longer peering around the corner for more, I can still discontentedly search for a season of life that’s not so exhausting.

But these words still echo in my memory: “Just be faithful.”

Maybe you’ve heard these same words from a friend, pastor, or mentor. In the Christian world (especially in ministry circles), we often hear success defined as faithfulness. This is how the good servants were described in Matthew’s parable of the talents. They were faithful (Matthew 25:21). For those in ministry, Paul emphasized that “it is required of stewards that they be found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2). It is right and biblical to define Christian success as faithfulness, but I wonder if sometimes we unhelpfully make the two words synonymous, to the point where we can’t distinguish one from the other.

In the past, I’ve misconstrued faithfulness with positive, measurable outcomes (how we usually think about success in the world). I expected faithfulness to earn an enjoyable job with a reasonable income, easy relationships, and a comfortable lifestyle. After all, the faithful servants earned double the amount they were given at the beginning of the parable and received recognition for it (Matthew 25:15-23). Isn’t that success?

In the parable, notice how the master did not affirm the five-talent servant differently than the two-talent servant. They both heard the words, “Well done” (Matthew 15:21-23). Their faithfulness wasn’t defined by the outcome of their work, but the work itself. The one-talent servant didn’t fail because he had so little, but because he did nothing.

Faithfulness isn’t success. It’s action toward given responsibility.

When I was told to be faithful as a college student, church member, and part-time employee, I thought that was a pitiful list of responsibilities. “Just being faithful” with what I had sounded like a resignation to inadequacy (especially if you’re prone toward high ambition, like me). But what seemed like not enough or not glamorous enough to me was everything God had given.

My friend was right. I had things to do—enough to be faithful.

Do you feel like this season is insignificant? Like you can’t do enough for the kingdom of God? Like you only have one talent? If you even have one talent, God gave it to you and wants you to use it. Be faithful.

But what if God blesses a season with success? What if your finances, performance, and positions are comfortable and thriving? Is that faithless? Absolutely not. God may give different gifts or “talents” to different people, but his expectation remains the same. Be faithful.

Or what if a season feels significant and overwhelming? The list of expectations are endless and you don’t know how you can keep up. God still gave you everything on your agenda, and he wants you to do it. Be faithful.

What has God given you today? Does it look like too little, too much, or enough?

Do you need to go to a boring or difficult job? Sit in class? Drive to the hospital? Resist sin? Alleviate suffering? Clarify a conflict? Change a diaper? Present a business proposal? Make a major decision?

Whoever you are, wherever you are, faithfulness is right in front of you. It’s whatever’s next—no matter how hard or trivial or crucial it might be. For faithfulness’ reward is not in its success, but in the joy of the master (Matthew 25:21, 23).

What are you doing now?

Be faithful with it today.

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