This year at the church I pastor, Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, we are reminding each other to be where your feet are. In other words, be a fully engaged follower of Christ in the life you actually have. Be personally, emotionally, and intellectually present in the physical place where your feet are. Being a faithful witness of Christ means committing our lives to the reality that where we find ourselves each day is our strategic gospel opportunity. Thus, Paul unjustly imprisoned asserts, “that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel” (Phil 1:12). Satan desires us to live in abstraction and a fantasy-world of “what if?” and “if only?” but the Scripture admonishes us to live for Christ in the concrete reality of our daily lives: “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col 3:17). Nobody else can be you—surrendered to Jesus.
The post below is a call by CH Spurgeon for those in ministry to be where your feet are. It is taken from Spurgeon’s An All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (50-52).
“A dear brother said to me, “I wish you would go abroad, and preach the Word;” and he urged as a reason that my people would appreciate me better if they had less of me. I replied that I did not want my people to appreciate me any more, for they go already as far in that direction as would be safe, and I assured him that I should stop at home for fear they should appreciate me more. I might have rambled all the world over, and done great good, if that had been my calling; but the day will declare whether I have not been more in the path of duty and real usefulness by fostering institutions at home, and scattering the Word by my printed sermons far more widely than I could have done with my voice.
Be it so or not, brethren, when you know which part of the Lord’s work He has committed to you, give your whole soul to it. Going through the famous factory at Sevres, the other day, I noticed an artist painting a very beautiful vase. I looked at him, but he did not look at me; his eyes were better engaged than in staring at a stranger. There were several persons at my heels, and they all looked at him, and made various observations, yet the worker’s eye never moved from his work. He had to paint the picture upon that vase, and what benefit would he get from noticing us, or from our noticing him? He kept to his work. We would fain see such abstraction and concentration in every man who has the Lord’s work to do. “This one thing I do.” Some frown, some smile, but “this one thing I do.” Some think they could do it better, but “this one thing I do.” How they could do it, may be their business; but it certainly is not mine.
Remember, dear brother, if you give your whole soul to the charge committed to you, it does not matter much about its appearing to be a somewhat small and insignificant affair, for as much skill may be displayed in the manufacture of a very tiny watch as in the construction of the town clock; in fact, a minute article may become the object of greater wonder than another of larger dimensions. Quality is a far more precious thing than quantity. Have you ever seen the famous picture at the Hague, called “Paul Potter’s Bull”? It is one of the world’s immortal paintings. What is it? Well, it is only a bull; and there are, besides, a man, and a tree and a frog, and a few weeds. It is only a bull; ah, but there is not upon canvas another bull in the world to equal it!
Many a man has attempted to depict a marvellous piece of natural scenery in the Alps or in Cumberland, or he has tried his pencil upon a magnificent sea-piece, with a fleet of yachts dancing on the waves, and he has not succeeded. The subjects were superior, but the art was poor. We must never think, because the particular work we have in hand seems to be insignificant, that therefore we cannot do it, or should not do it, thoroughly well. We need Divine help to preach aright to a congregation of one. If a thing is worth doing at all, it is worth doing well. If you had to sweep a crossing, it were well to sweep it better than anybody else. If you only preach in Little Peddlington, let Little Peddlington know that you are doing your best, and seeking its good.
Many a minister has achieved fame, and, what is far better, has brought glory to God, in a congregation which could be counted by units, while another has presided over a large church, and though at first there was a great blast of trumpets, it has ended in the silence and sadness of utter failure. Know your work, and bend over it, throwing your heart and soul into it; for, be it great or small, you will have to praise God to all eternity if you are found faithful in it.
Come fair or come foul, my comrades, hold ye the fort. Some men attempt to excuse their own negligence by blaming the times. What have you and I to do with the times, except to serve God in them? The times are always evil to those who are of morbid temperament. A scholar tells us that he once read a passage from a book to a worthy gentleman of the desponding school; it described “these days of blasphemy and rebuke,” – I think that is the correct expression, — and lamented the failure of the faithful from among men “Ah, how true!” said the worthy man, “it is the precise picture of the times.” “What times?” exclaimed the scholar. “These times, of course,” was the reply. “Pardon me,” said the scholar, “the sentiment was delivered about four hundred years ago; examine for yourself the date of the volume.”
The benefit of railing at the times it would be hard to discover, for railing does not mend them. What have you to do with the times? Do your own work. Charles the Twelfth of Sweden has his secretary sitting by his side writing from dictation, when a bombshell fell through the roof into the next room. The secretary, in alarm, dropped his pen, upon which the king exclaimed, “What are you doing?” The poor man faltered, “Ah, sire, the bomb!” The king’s answer was, “What has the bomb to so with what I am telling you?” You will say that the secretary’s life was in danger. Yes, but you are safe in any case, for you are side by side with Jesus in holy service, and no evil can befall you.
Watch on, and work on, even to the crack of doom. Leave the times and the seasons with God, and go on with your work. Carlyle speaks somewhere of the house-cricket chirping on while the trump of the archangel is sounding; who blames it for so doing? If God had made you a house-cricket, and bidden you chirp, you could not do better than fulfil His will. As He has made you a preacher, you must abide in your vocation. Even if the earth should be removed, and the mountains should be cast into the midst of the sea, would that alter our duty? I think not. Christ has sent us to preach the gospel; and if our life-work is not yet finished, (and it is not) let us continue delivering our message under all circumstances till death shall silence us.”