• Plodding can result in discouragement. The dictionary definition of plodding is “slow-moving and unexciting.” To illustrate, let’s say a man is a pastor of a small church. He’s a plodder. He’s a faithful guy. But as his ministry rolls on, month after month, year after year, he realizes that not a whole lot is happening. Revivals are not forthcoming. Droves of people are not getting saved. In fact, some of the families that he thought he “put back together,” have come totally unglued. The man plods, but discouragement sets in.
• Plodding can result in burnout. When a person pours intense labor into something for which they are not gifted, burnout will result. For example, consider a pastor whose gift is Bible exposition. He is not gifted at administration. However, his church of 200 people and lots of programs demands a great deal of administration. Soon, the pastor discovers that the lion’s share of his time is consumed by administrative details. Despite his lack of administrative skill, he tries to organize programs and oversee events. He feels like he’s banging his head against a wall. And eventually, he gives in. He is exhausted. He is fatigued. He plods. And burns out.
• Plodding is slower than sprinting. The term “plodding” doesn’t sit well with a type A personality—the kind of person whose calendar is packed with events, whose cell phone rings constantly, whose multi-tasking skills are refined, whose email inbox is always full, whose aspirations are lofty, and whose life speed is always high. Plodding is antithetical to their nature. As they see it, plodding is antithetical to the Christian life, too. Wasn’t Jesus busy? Didn’t Paul have a packed itinerary? Didn’t the early church have services every single day? Why plod for God, when one can sprint?
• Plodding can result in ineffectiveness. Could it be that there are plodders who are wasting their lives? Plodding may be the reason that people have such small visions. Don’t we need big visions—the kind that involve breaking down barriers, evangelizing entire countries, starting church planting movements, and igniting Christian awakenings in closed-access territories? But a plodder—one who loyally stays the course—can’t see the vast forest of opportunity for the single tree in front of him. Instead of a potentially fruitful ministry, he settles for the plodding that is in reality ineffectiveness.
These are hard words. Harsh is more like it. Isn’t this kind of writing discouraging, hurtful, and arrogant? Doesn’t it disregard the Bible’s teaching on faithfulness?
An explanation is in order. The above dangers are legitimate, but they are dangers that describe someone who is plodding without perspective. Plodding without perspective is akin to ministry suicide—discouragement, burnout, and ineffectiveness. The plodder whose perspective has vanished is someone who is so embroiled in the complexities of ministry that he fails to see the purpose behind it all. Plodding is not wrong. Plodding is what God has called us to do as ministers. But plodding without perspective is harmful indeed.