If you’ve read the gospels, you’ve come across the lists of the 12 disciples. Peter is spoken of the most, then John. James gets mentioned because he was in Jesus’ inner circle with Peter and John, but not because of anything he said or did. Judas’ betrayal gained him infamy; Thomas’ skepticism means he is well known. Philip and Andrew had a few brief interactions. Not one word Matthew said was recorded, though he wrote an entire gospel. The rest are mentioned only by name.
What do you make of the fact that half of Jesus’ disciples are barely mentioned in the Bible? Of the six that were mentioned, three have a paragraph or less of information to report. Two to three of the disciples were in the spotlight, while the majority operated mostly, and in some cases entirely, behind the scenes.
That’s probably a pretty accurate description of church activity too. Three-fourths of the people who do things are mostly incognito. They set up Lord’s Supper, change the banners, mow the lawn, keep the kitchen clean, make coffee, make sure there are paper towels in the bathroom. They create the PowerPoints and/or the bulletins, unlock the doors, and shovel the sidewalks before anyone arrives.
Or consider Time of Grace. Pastor Mike’s face is the one you see most of the time. But behind the scenes you have a cameraperson, a person editing videos, another tackling social media. An editor makes Pastor Mike’s written words fit all the grammar rules, and still another person handles donations to pay the cameraperson and the video and print editors. You see one person, but there are at least five other people you don’t see who bring Pastor Mike’s messages to you.
Are you one of the three-fourths who rarely get recognition for your efforts? Maybe no one knows your name or what you add to the kingdom. If so, consider yourself in good company, because even the majority of the disciples fell into that category.
And here’s the best part: those who pray and work behind the scenes are in the ministry just as much as the person who is visible. The apostle Paul encouraged the Christians in Rome: “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me” (Romans 15:30). Those praying were in the struggle with Paul, as if they were right there battling for the sake of the gospel! Paul asked other congregations to pray for him to have the right words, to be clear in his message, that he would be fearless, and for doors to be opened to his message. Until he reached heaven, Paul probably didn’t know the impact those prayer warriors had. He couldn’t have known them all by name. But God did.
And God still sees the efforts of the three-fourths. He knows their value. You very well may be the reason your pastor’s marriage is still intact. God heard your prayers. You may be a silent financial donor and the reason your church is still open. Your prayers for the gospel to spread through this ministry are being answered. When you pray for open hearts to hear the message and for those who are proclaiming it, it’s as if you are the missionary.
All of this is to remind you how important you are. We all have kingdom work to do, and every bit of it has value. Keep praying, keep giving, and keep working behind the scenes. The apostle Paul knew as well as anyone the importance of the three-fourths or five-eighths or four-fifths. He knew and proclaimed: “Let us [we’re all in this together!] not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
Let’s strive for a big harvest and keep working toward that end!