“This has been an exhausting year,” Jen Wilkin began. “Everyone around us has been a little bit fragile. If the Church is the family of God… and I believe deeply that it is that … then in this room, sitting here, we have a room full of church mothers. Women who look out for the needs of the church.”
Who filled that room she’s referring to? Ministers’ wives.
Wilkin was the speaker at the Ministers’ Wives Luncheon held June 15 in conjunction with the SBC Annual Meeting.
Wilkin, a speaker, author and staff member at The Village Church, Flower Mound, Texas, encouraged those gathered to guard their hearts against discouragement and pursue spiritual maturity.
“When you think about being a person who is spiritually mature, someone who understands exactly what to do with discouragement — what do you think of?” she asked. “We don’t really have to wonder because the Bible gives us a good picture of what maturity looks like.”
She then read from James 1:2–4: “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
The “perfection” and “completeness” referenced in James could also be interpreted as maturity, Wilkin said. “Perfection, not in the sense that we cease sinning, but that we are growing to look like Christ, the perfect one.”
But what James promises, she continued, is that trials, like the ones Christians have faced through the past year and a half, will produce steadfastness in the believer. “The dictionary defines steadfastness as ‘resolutely or dutifully firm and unwavering.’”
The relationship between steadfastness and patience is a close one, Wilkin said. “Patience will serve you for a moment or a day. Steadfastness will serve you for a decade and a lifetime.”
Patience will lead to steadfastness, she continues.
“It is these small moments in which we choose to be patient instead of to be impatient in which steadfastness begins to grow in our minds, and it is in this way you can begin to guard your heart.”
Wilkin goes on to reference a study by the Boston Globe which suggests that people today are becoming increasingly more impatient.
“We inhabit a culture that believes that waiting is actually an enemy. Waiting is seen as a problem to solve,” she said. “The problem with this is that it is actually an anti-Christian concept. Christians, by definition, are people of delayed gratification. … The children of God await a future Kingdom. And we seek to live now as citizens of that Kingdom in such a way that those around us might know there’s something much better than what’s in front of us. But a key to being a follower of Christ is knowing how to wait. It is being patient, in the moments in the day, it is being steadfast in a decade and the years.”
Believers are called to something better than the impatience of the world. They are called to steadfastness, Wilkin said.
“We believe that steadfastness is anchored in looking forward with certainty. And I need to point out to us that just as the inability to wait is anti-Christian, so also is the desire to have a clear vision of the future,” she said. The rooted and mature Christian “walks by faith and not by sight. If you’re looking for God to remove all uncertainty in order for you to grow in steadfastness, I think you’re going to be disappointed. … The better way to grow in steadfastness is not by looking ahead and asking for clear sight. It is actually looking over your shoulder at the faithful witness of a God whose faithfulness has been known to all generations.”
Wilkin implored participants to remember the unwavering goodness of God as displayed in the Old Testament.
“I think one of the reasons we’re so obsessed with asking God to tell us about the future is because we have neglected to celebrate what God has done in the past,” she said.
Wilkin concluded with a prayer for steadfastness for all in the room and those outside the room. “Let us be a people of delayed gratification,” she said. “Let us be eager to endure so we might look like His Son.”