"I think of pastors who see a hundred faces stare back at them in the pews, maybe 130 some years, maybe 85 in others. These pastors can’t help but wonder if they’ve gotten something wrong or if they just aren’t as gifted as other men. Both are possible. But more likely, it’s just one of those things, one of those 'the Spirit blows where he wills' kind of things. I know of pastors who work just as hard as I do. They preach good sermons. They love their people. They probably shepherd better and counsel better and visit the widows better than I do. They endure more hardship and face more obstacles. And yet they keep rowing their spiritual oars Sunday after Sunday, elder meeting after elder meeting, budget after budget, funeral after funeral, all the while with little fanfare and perhaps even little visible fruit. Who’s ordinary now? Are not they the extraordinary ones?"
h/t Treading Grain
This week the Church commemorates Charles Simeon. In an understatement, one profile says,
"Simeon's enthusiasm and zeal brought him much ridicule and abuse, which he bore uncomplainingly."
Yet because he stayed in place, preaching and teaching where he sometimes wasn't even wanted,
"His ministry helped to transform the lives of many undergraduates, of whom we may mention two in particular. Henry Martyn (see 19 Oct), inspired by Simeon, abandoned his intention of going into law and instead devoted his life and his considerable talents to preaching the Gospel in India and Persia. William Wilberforce (20 July), also led in part by Simeon's ministry of teaching and example, devoted his life to the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire."
The Rule of St. Benedict endures for emphasizing "stability." Staying in place means putting up with and forgiving others, in other words, being whipped into shape as a durable Christian.
Priests, preachers, teachers and others who stay in place in settings that don't "feel" as fruitful as we would like may well be nurturing amazing fruit in God's plan. This is a great encouragement - famously fruitful harvests won't emerge save from trudging, trustworthy labor.
Jesus sent out missionary teams to launch the church. But even on the move, they practiced stability wherever they were received,
"And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house." Luke 10:7
They didn't go chasing more favorable or flashy settings - they just stayed in place for as long as was needed to share the Good News in a community.
There is value in what you do. Stay in there.