God's Job and Our Job
By Josh Denhart
Josh Denhart is a seasoned educator and former high school chemistry teacher. A children’s pastor for 10 years, Josh melded his love for science and Christ to create “The Amazing Chemistry Show”—a traveling gospel-centered stage show with fire, explosions and foam.
Many children’s pastors could articulate the gospel message with clarity. However, I think there is a deeper consideration when it comes to communicating the message of Christ. However, it is time to explore the details of God’s role in salvation and ours.
I do not believe ministry leaders have often slowed down enough from the weekly grind of the “practical and tactical” to consider things from a “deeply theological” standpoint. I desire to lead us through a thorough consideration of God’s job and our job. The goal of this article is to more rightly understand God’s job and our job in salvation as found in the Scriptures.
TRUTH #1 - GOD LEADS PEOPLE TO JESUS.
God’s job, according to the Scriptures, is to lead people to Jesus. Please slow down and read this verse of Scripture in John 6:44, where Jesus says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” The Bible states this again in John 6:65: “And He was saying, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.’”
Salvation ultimately is the work of God. He leads people to see their need for Him. Therefore, He says, in John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.”
In my short 20 years of working with kids in ministry, I have come to change my language. I am no longer comfortable stating, “I led this person to Christ.” Words matter. Rather, I am more comfortable saying, “I led this person to a place where God showed them their very own need for a Savior.”
While this may sound like semantics, I believe it is not a simple alteration of words, but a declaration of truth. It is an attitude of the heart. I want to appropriately place God in His rightful place. I want to remind myself that I am nothing more than a guide. When thought about rightly, we are released from the pressure of saving anyone. We are simply called to lead people to a place where God can do His heart work. This heart work is something that we ourselves are completely incapable of doing.
*Truth #1: God leads people to Jesus; I lead people to see their need for a Savior.
TRUTH #2 - GOD OPENS EYES.
God’s job, according to the Scriptures, is to open people’s eyes to the truth. Our job, according to the Scriptures is to faithfully share the message of Jesus with clarity.
Romans 10:13-15 reads: “For ‘Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’”
As unfathomable as this may seem, God has entrusted this message to His people. He has bestowed this privilege upon us and not His angels. Though the angels long to look into these glorious things, the Scriptures are clear He has given this role to His people.
Paul asked for prayer for this message to be clear. In Colossians 4:3-4, he wrote: “Praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
Paul knew his words mattered. He prayed his use of words and language would be clear. Our words matter and are used by God. However, before you overly internalize this weight, let’s read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
“And when I came to you, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.”
I have peace when I remember who I am in this process and who God is in the process. I do not have to be perfect and polished. I do not have to be a world-class orator. I need to faithfully and clearly share the truths of the Scriptures. That is my job. However, I am incapable of opening eyes. God alone opens the eyes of the spiritually blind.
Now, I certainly study to show myself approved; I diligently prepare, but the battle belongs to the Lord. I share, yet it is His prerogative to open their eyes. I faithfully share, yet I wait for Him to faithfully open the eyes of someone who needs Him.
*Truth #2: God opens eyes; we clearly tell the story of Jesus.
Truth #3 - God Convicts of Sin.
God’s job, according to the Scriptures, is to convict of sin. God is exclusively responsible for the conviction of sin. It is not my job to seek to bring conviction upon someone, and honestly I cannot. It is not my job to persuade by shame, guilt, fear or spiritual manipulation.
My job is to seek to earn the right to be heard. Sharing Christ comes down to relationship—whether is it an opportunity to witness to someone on the street or through a long-term relationship. People have a deeply intuitive sense for fraudulent and fake people. People can sense a person who is genuine versus a person who is not.
Our job, simply put, it to love through relationship. Paul beautifully states this in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8: “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.”
I want to do my job. I want to operate with authentic love and care. When I operate with love, under the influence of the Spirit of God, I am positioning my personhood, as flawed as it is, to be used as a vessel of communicating the grace of God.
There is, however, a danger. We must never underestimate our ability to inappropriately and yet unintentionally spiritually manipulate another person. Sadly, we can easily make someone say anything we want them to say, especially children. Think about this for a moment and allow this to sink in.
Remember, the burden falls on God to convict and save. This is His work. We join Him. He does the heavy lifting. We do not. Convicting of sin is not only not my job; it is also from God. That is what it takes. It is His business.
We must never forget it is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. We must tenderly model the kindness of God. In addition, man's anger does not bring about the righteousness of God. My anger and sadness about sin in the world does not bring about His righteous ends.
*Truth #3: God convicts of sin; we seek to earn the right to be heard.
TRUTH #4 - GOD ANSWERS PRAYER; WE SIMPLY PRAY.
God answers prayer. This is His job. He is capable. He is strong enough. He is wise enough to know if this is a prayer worthy of being answered. That is His job. Only He can do this.
My job is to pray. Paul prayed for opportunity. Paul prayed for clear words. Paul prayed for the eyes of their hearts to be opened. Paul prayed for doors to be opened. Paul prayed for all the members of Christ’s body to work together in unity for one purpose: the gospel message. We pray. God hears. Those are the roles. Those are our jobs.
I cannot answer prayer! That is exclusively God’s domain. The trick is to recognize what my role is and how to depend upon Him for His role.
I think it is very important to remember this simple truth: God loves these kids more than you ever will or could ever comprehend.
We pray. We entrust our needs to the Lord. We seek to do our part and then we go to bed. Listen, I can sleep very well at night having done my job because I am partnered in ministry with the One who does not sleep or slumber. He is continuously at work. He does not need us; but He desires to use us. We exist in partnership with him. I love Him. I deeply trust Him. I want to continue to grow in my trust in Him.
Ask yourself this humbling question: Are you praying for the salvation of the kids in your ministry? Some of you may emphatically say, “Yes, of course!” However, let us not fool ourselves. I was a children’s pastor for over 10 years and I can honestly say I found myself working for and praying for far lesser things. I was in charge of a huge ministry. I found myself seeking to solve important but lower-level things. I was solving organizational and tactical issues often to the exclusion of the most important things!
Jesus commanded us to pray. Check out this passage that reveals His heart: “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest’” (Matt. 9:36-38).
We want workers. We pray for volunteers. But for what end? Well, because people are distressed like sheep without a shepherd. People need the Lord. Jesus said to ask God for more worker-people because the harvest is ready and there is no one to pick it! Our goal in recruiting and using volunteers should be singular in focus: For people to hear the gospel.
*Truth #4: God answers prayer; we simply pray.
TRUTH #5 - GOD ORCHESTRATES PERFECT TIMING. GOD IS IN CHARGE OF ALL THINGS.
He tells the waves, “You waves, come no further.” God is in absolute and complete control of all items, seen and unseen. He holds all things together in Christ. God is sovereign.
It is God’s job to orchestrate the events that surround an opportunity for us to effectively share the gospel with someone. It is my job to discern when to speak and when to wait for the Lord.
I must confess; I have been guilty of seeking to manufacture the perfect timing for a loved one to hear the gospel. I have been guilty of this, and maybe you have too. We do more damage than good when we seek to do God’s job for Him.
Out of an eagerness for people to come to know God, we often step out of our lane and veer into God’s lane. Our concern for the lost needs to stay strong, yet it needs to stay grounded in the Scriptures.
God saves. We do not. God convicts of sin. We do not. God answers prayer. We do not. God brings about the perfect set of events for someone to hear the gospel. We simply do not.
*Truth #5: God orchestrates perfect timing; we discern when to speak.
WHEN WE DO OUR JOB, GOD TAKES CARE OF THE REST
I want to introduce you to a statistic from Bill Fay’s wonderful work entitled, Share Jesus Without an Argument—later titled, Share Jesus Without Fear. In Bill’s extensive work in evangelism, he interviewed thousands of believers and came to conclude something amazing: 7.6
The 7.6 average. What is 7.6? It is the average number of times someone will hear the gospel message before becoming a Christian. I believe knowing this fact can completely reframe our understanding of our role when it comes to salvation. This statistic holds true in my life. There were 7 different people who shared Christ with me. I know and remember all of their names.
If a person hears the gospel message, on average, 7.6 times before being convicted of their sin and coming to see their need for a Savior, would the person who shared the second and third time be a failure if someone did not pray to receive Christ after hearing the message? No way! Should the person who faithfully leveraged relationship and accurately shared the message of Jesus for the fifth time in someone’s life feel as if they did not do their job if the individual did not become a Christian upon hearing the gospel? Absolutely not!
Whose job is that? However, so many in Christian ministry stumble when they do not properly understand the clearly defined roles laid out in Scripture about God’s job and our job. Now, if it were my job to save someone from their sins, then I would be failing at my job if, upon hearing the gospel message, a person did not become a Christian.
But wait! That is not my job! That is God’s job. Therefore, I am doing my job and faithfully executing my role when I simply share the message of Jesus, regardless of the outcome. Take heart. Know your job. Do your job. Allow the remaining matters to rest in the hands of God.
Better together. Paul shared in this 1 Corinthians 3:5-9: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
Consider the kids. Think about the young and impressionable souls you are called to minister to week in and week out. Listen, God has been at work in these kids long before you were a part of the picture. God will be at work in them long after you are out of the picture.
None of us know exactly which part we play in the plan of God. When I am faithful in doing my job it really does not matter. Am I planting the seed for the first time? Then let me plant to the glory of God. Am I watering a seed someone planted sometime before? Then let me water to the glory of God. Am I given the task of weeding and protecting the initial and tender growth of this plant? Do so with faith in the One who ultimately causes the growth.
Share your burden. When rightly considered, these truths should give us great peace. I rest in the following truth: The burden does not fall upon me. The burden of salvation is upon the Lord.