There’s a story in W.A. Criswell’s biography that illustrates how you can never measure the impact of your ministry.
Dr. Criswell tells about the day of his conversion: It was Autumn, 1920. His church was holding a revival and W.A. received permission to skip school to attend a special mid-day meeting.
At the close of the service, he responded to the invitation and accepted Christ as his Savior.
Seven years later he was licensed to preach. He soon began a lifetime of ministry, including 55 years as pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas. He wrote more than 50 books, led untold thousands to Christ, trained hundreds for the ministry. He was one of the most influential pastors in America during the 20th century.
But this story is really about the man who preached that 1920 revival which changed the course of Criswell’s life.
His name was John Hicks. He had been a guest in the Criswell’s home during the two week revival, and young W.A. had been greatly impressed with the evangelist’s manner and character. This admiration compelled the 10 year old boy to attend every service and hang on every word the preacher spoke.
Years later, as Hicks lay dying in Baylor Hospital, his friend Wallace Basset sat with him during his final moments. Hicks said, “Wallace, my life is over, my preaching days are done, and I’ve never done anything for Jesus. I’ve failed, Wallace. I’ve failed.”
Apparently John Hicks never knew about the special contribution he had made to the kingdom of God: how one revival meeting held in a small Texas town — and specifically one sermon preached on an Autumn morning — touched the heart of a young boy who would, in turn, touch the lives of millions in the years to come.
The words of Paul come to mind:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Maybe you can’t see the full results of your ministry at this moment. Maybe today it seems that your years of sacrifice and hard work resemble next to nothing.
The truth is that you’ve accomplished things that you don’t know about — things you may never know about this side of glory.
During these days when measurable results remain elusive, be steadfast. do not give in to despair. God is using you in ways that you cannot see.