You love to see the transformation that happens in the women you serve and relish the fruit God brings from your surrendered efforts to Him, but how do you keep serving when it seems like nothing is happening?
Diane Weitzman from Sister, Oregon, understands dry seasons of ministry. She’s served for two years at a church in a women’s ministry leader role, and this spring marks her fourth anniversary as a Revive Our Hearts Ambassador. She connected with the Revive Our Hearts team to share about her experiences and extend encouragement to those struggling to persevere through the difficult seasons of ministry.
ROH: How do you view the “winter” seasons of ministry, when you don’t see the fruit of your labor?
Diane: I remind myself that God is the one to bring the fruit. My job is to stay connected to Him. Winter seasons have their purpose and they are opportunities to see God at work in different ways than I might normally be looking for. We all have busier seasons of ministry where we might see more fruit, but it is often in the “winter” months where more time is available to nurture our relationship with Christ and actively rest in Him.
God is always working in us, and this inner work is vital to help prepare for greater fruitfulness elsewhere in His appointed time. I try to be faithful with whatever God has called me to do, such as praying consistently for the women I know about and continuing to initiate contacts and reach out to help meet needs, which are always present in every season! I often use the "winter" months to take more time to reflect and pray about the specific goals God has for me, which might include trying something new.
ROH: How do you persevere in the difficult seasons of ministry? What keeps you going as a leader?
Diane: By holding onto the promises of God. One of my favorite promises is found in Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Jesus will be faithful to produce the type and quantity of fruit in His “due season,” for His glory and through our ongoing dependence upon Him.
The other thing that helps me persevere is to stay connected to other believers and keep serving together. During one of these winter seasons in my life, I had another staff member pray for me and share how potatoes are growing underground where we can’t see them until the harvest, but they are growing and maturing all the time. That word picture has stuck with me and helped me persevere when my eyes couldn’t see much evidence of things happening.
ROH: How do you personally stay grounded in Christ in difficult seasons?
Diane: The best way I know how to stay grounded is to come and drink daily from the Living Water of Christ and His Word. This regular rhythm of my life nourishes my soul and leads my heart to focus on worship of God more than specific outcomes I must make happen or comparisons with others' ministry or life. It reminds me to thank God for all the ways He is at work and pray for His sustaining and empowering grace. Like the prophet Habakkuk, I choose to "rejoice in the LORD" even though there may be "no fruit on the vine" (Hab. 3:17–19). I find that these difficult seasons are most often the times when I experience more growth and fruitfulness in me because I am so much more aware of my thirst and need for God.
ROH: What piece of advice would you give to other leaders who are struggling in the winter seasons?
Diane: An important piece of advice I learned in my training as a Revive Our Hearts Ambassador is that if we take care of the depth of our walks with God, He will take care of the breadth. I would encourage other women who are struggling in winter seasons to listen and do what Jeremiah instructs us to do: "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat (or winter!) comes, for its leaves remain green, and it is not anxious in a year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jer. 17:7–8 ESV, my emphasis added).
- Plant yourself by and in the Living Water of Christ and His Word.
- Don't compare your fruit (or potatoes!) with anybody else's.
- Trust that God will be faithful to produce His fruit both in you and through you in due season.