The phrase used in the title of this essay is actually a quote from Jim Elliot, the God-centered missionary and martyr to the Quichua and Auca Indians in Ecuador. Devin, however, helped me to see what this truth meant practically during a conversation in the hall of a college dorm one evening.
I was a year and a half away from graduation and Devin was a semester away from donning the cap and gown, so our conversation that night focused on the subject of our futures. What were we going to do after graduation? What did we want to do after college? Even more daunting: what would be doing in the next 10 years? These are the kinds of questions that have the tendency to give a college student stomach aches as he sits on the threshold of his graduation.
Ironically (but not surprisingly) I was more anxious than Devin concerning my future, even though I had another full year and a half before I graduated. Devin gently inquired into my plans and aspirations with heart-searching questions. I would respond with several “I don’t knows” and “I just really wannas.” But instead of sternly rebuking this sincere but worried college student, Devin brought me face to face to reality and gave to me a treasure of wisdom that profits me to this day.
Devin asked me, “What has the Lord put before you? Your school work. Your family. Your friends and your ministry at church. Focus on these and do them with all your heart for His glory and God will guide you and provide for you.” That conversation was probably one of the greatest helps I received while at college. Devin’s exhortation was simply an application of the principle Christ laid down in Matthew 25:21 when He commended the servant who multiplied his five talents by saying, “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” The principle: faithfulness in little prepares a person for greater responsibility. Another way to say it: You concern yourself the depth of your life and ministry and let God concern Himself with the breadth of your life and ministry.
For the rest of my time at college I would regularly apply this principle as I studied, nurtured relationships and did ministry, and it is this instruction from Devin that has brought me back time and time again, from unnecessary worry and panic about the future to focused, content and heart-felt labor.