This summer, as I have been working with some of our new CRM staff on other campuses, I have been reminded of the simple truth that big things start small and small things should not be despised by those who lead “big” things or those who lead “small” things.
Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They’ll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!” Zechariah 4:10 (The Message)
Rebuilding The Temple
The prophets Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries, writing during an exciting time called the “post-exile period.” Israel and Judah had been captive to other nations for a very long time, but were granted permission to rebuild the wall (see the book of Nehemiah) and the temple (see Ezra, Haggai, and Zechariah).
They built the foundation of the temple quickly, but then got discouraged and distracted. The prophet Haggai rebuked the people for stopping the work of building the temple and encouraged them to press into God’s promises and keep building.
Is there anyone here who saw the Temple the way it used to be, all glorious? And what do you see now? Not much, right? So get to work, Zerubbabel!—God is speaking. Get to work, Joshua son of Jehozadak—high priest! Get to work, all you people!’—God is speaking. This Temple is going to end up far better than it started out, a glorious beginning but an even more glorious finish. Haggai 2
Some who remembered the glory of the previous temple were sad that this temple was not going to be as glorious (at least in their eyes). Haggai says, “So what? Just get to work. Do the next thing. God has a plan.”
Uniting Campus Ministries
CRM’s goal is to unite campus ministries in prayer and mission. This is a very difficult work. Ministries do not naturally want to work together. Often they tend to care more about building their kingdom (ministry) rather than the Kingdom (ministries). It takes time to get ministries to “buy in.” It takes perseverance, hard conversations, forgiveness, love, patience, misunderstandings, humility and more.
Sometimes I forget how long it took to get ministries at the University of Texas working together to the degree that we do now. I could have easily quit during the difficult times. Thankfully, God provided friends, family, students, and campus ministers who echoed the spirit of Haggai and Zechariah. “Get to work.” “Don’t despise small beginnings.” “Do the next thing.” Twenty-two years later I am still doing it and we still have a long way to go!
If I could be Haggai or Zechariah…
… here are some things I would say to young leaders trying to unite their campuses in prayer and mission.
- Don’t compare your work with others. Every call and every campus is different.
- Take the next step. Just do the next thing.
- Be faithful and persevering. Movements grow by simple daily decisions to move forward.
- Ceilings become floors. What seems like the ultimate goal now will just become a stepping stone to something more. There is always more to accomplish. Where you are now is likely where you wished you would have been two years ago.
- Think long-term. You likely overestimate what you can do in two years, but underestimate what you can do in ten years.
- Be refined. Ultimately, God is working in you. Difficulties refine our character, making us the type of leaders God can use mightily.
- It’s worth it. Whether God does something you perceive as”great” or not, it is still worth it.
- It’s about calling. If God has called you to it, what else can you do. It’s the only place you’ll find joy.
- Have fun. It’s helpful to take yourself and your work less seriously. Get a hobby. Travel. Sabbath. Have friends outside of the campus ministry world and enjoy them.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Network and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.