For all my fellow followers of Jesus who might be feeling a bit discouraged in your work, here is a story that might help you.
His name was Herbert, but most folks just called him Buddy. To a Sunday School classroom full of ten and eleven year old boys, he seemed to be a hundred years old. He had grown up during the Great Depression, so I'm sure his formal educational opportunities were limited. Why in the world would he subject himself to the unruly behavior of an unappreciative group of boys Sunday after Sunday? Perhaps I have an answer.
I was a member of that class. I don't remember a single lesson he taught. I remember no powerful principles for life that he imparted to us. What I DO remember is that he was there every Sunday. Consistently, faithfully, patiently, he attempted to teach a class of boys with very short attention spans and a variety of interests that seemed much more exciting than a Sunday School lesson.
12 years later, I remember Buddy standing in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit. In a matter of days, my father's heart had failed and he was snatched from us at the age of 59. Once again, I cannot remember anything that Buddy said that night, but I will always remember that he was there when we needed support.
I've thought of Buddy often over the years, wondering if he ever knew the positive effect that his faithfulness, patience, and love had on that class of boisterous boys. I haven't kept up with my classmates, but I do know one whose life was eternally affected by the quiet, consistent, caring presence of that simple man. It wasn't what he SAID that influenced my life. It's what he WAS.
Buddy is a beautiful example for Sunday School workers, pastors, youth workers, coaches, and mentors who might feel like giving up. If that's you, please take a page from Buddy's playbook. Don't worry so much about what to say. Just be there! Be patient, consistent, and loving. Stay the course! Do NOT get weary and discouraged. Those things spring from the heart of the devil with the intent to make you give up. DON'T LET him WIN! The positive effects might not be evident yet, but you are having an effect. God will use you to change some lives, just like He used Buddy to change mine.
I never told Buddy how much he meant to me, but I'm sure he knows now. One day, when God calls me to my eternal home, Buddy will be one of those to whom I will say, "Thank you for giving to the Lord, for I am a life that was changed. Thank you for giving to the Lord. I am so glad you gave." (Ray Boltz)
In writing to the Galatian church, Paul told them, "So let's not get tired of doing what's good. At just the right time, we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up!" (Galatians 6:9 NLT)
Nothing you do for others in Jesus' Name is every wasted. NOTHING! So Keep Up the Good Work!!