Ordinary Faithfulness

Janet Aucoin January 13, 2023

At the beginning of each year, people are excited and motivated to set new goals and become better in different areas of their lives. Often those looking for change in the new year strive for perfection, and give up when they get burned out or make mistakes. It is wise to set goals and work toward positive change, but Christians often lose sight of the ultimate motivation of glorifying God. In this episode, Janet and Jocelyn discuss the topic of ordinary faithfulness, how to be faithful in our day to day lives and in our relationship with the Lord.

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Episode Transcript



Ordinary - Michael Horton


Devote Yourself to Faithfulness - Jon Bloom

Faithfulness in Forgotten Places - Scott Hubbard

The Unique Joy of Ordinary Faithfulness - Chris Martin


Jocelyn: I don't just need to feel better. I need the truth. And ultimately that will make me better.

Janet: I just want to make it as totally simple as possible for ladies to see that the Bible is really applicable to their everyday life.

Jocelyn: When they understand theology, the application flows out of it quickly with joy.

Janet: It is a journey, but even the journey itself is joyful when I'm doing it, holding the hand of my savior and trusting him all along the way. This is the joyful journey podcast, a podcast to inspire and equip women to passionately pursue beautiful biblical truth on their journey as women of God. When you choose truth, you're choosing joy.

Janet: Welcome back to season three of the Joyful Journey Podcast. Can you believe we're on season three?

Jocelyn: I can't. Three seasons have passed already. It's unbelievable.

Janet: I'm so excited to have you here with us. And we are gonna start the year talking about something incredibly exciting. Are you ready?

Jocelyn: I am. I'm ready. I can't wait.

Janet: Let's talk about ordinary faithfulness.

Jocelyn: Dun dun dun

Janet: which may not sound all that exciting, but I think is incredibly important. And I think it's important to realize it's actually listed as a fruit of the spirit.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: It's not something that's natural. And if we did nothing else in this new year, except over the course of this year, we're committed to supernatural ordinary faithfulness, I think it would really revolutionize our lives.

Jocelyn: It would certainly change the way we see everything, if our only goal was to be faithful.

Janet: Yes. Yes. So I'm gonna submit to you that long term, biblical faithfulness may not be flashy, but it is definitely supernatural.

Jocelyn: Absolutely.

Janet: I also wanna encourage you listeners, make sure you listen in the middle of the podcast, we do our resource break.

Janet: We're gonna have an exciting listener challenge for you for this quarter and for this year. So listen in for that. But let's start where we like to. Let's define our terms.

Jocelyn: Let's do that.

Janet: Faithfulness is such a common word, that I think it's easy for us to use it, and we're gonna just assume we all mean the same thing.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: But, for communication to be effective, we just need to make sure we're defining it. Otherwise. I think when we're talking about it, we're just gonna frustrate each other, and think that we're saying the same things when we're not. So what is faithfulness?

Janet: Well, specifically, we read that in Galatians 5:22, it is a fruit of the Spirit. But in, I looked at a lot of verses and I'm just gonna read to you the meaning of that word from just 12 different verses, which I think just gives us a more full orbed understanding of what it means. It includes things like trustworthy, reliable, pius, godly, steadiness, reliability, conscientiously, reliable, lasting, fidelity, truth, reliable again in another meaning, stable, true, steady, honest. So when I think about all of those things, all of those different nuances are part of what it means to be faithful.

Janet: John Bloom wrote an article in Desiring God called Devote Yourself to Faithfulness. And he came up with his own simple definition that we could certainly say more, but I think simple definitions can help us to lock onto them. Just being true to your word.

Jocelyn: That's a helpful definition, very short, concise. And it's exactly what it is.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: Being true to your word.

Janet: If you think about it, if you do that, you'll be reliable.

Jocelyn: Yep.

Janet: You'll be stable. True. All those things

Jocelyn: Steady. Yep.

Janet: Yep. In Hebrews 11:1, how is faith described? It's an assurance and a conviction regarding what God has said-- God's word. And because God is faithful because God is true to his word. We can have an assured faith.

Jocelyn: That's so cool.

Janet: And then we see in Matthew 6:30 and Matthew 8:26, that gets contrasted with what it means to have little faith.

Janet: And in these verses the disciples lack assurance. And what do they mean? They're not believing that God is trustworthy or reliable or that he'll be true to his word.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: And I can totally relate it.

Jocelyn: Absolutely. Both. Yeah.

Janet: Isn't that interesting. Proverbs 2:8 has the idea of faithfulness being godly. And I really do see that that's a way that we get to image God.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: I mean, he is faithful. So the closer we get to him, the more and more we're gonna be faithful too.

Jocelyn: Which is so cool to think. Like, it's not like we have to just figure this out and apply it without any examples. God is the perfect example of faithfulness.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: And as we learned from him, we will be faithful too.

Janet: Yes. I love that. His faithfulness is what's the anchor for our soul. That's our source of hope. There's nothing boring about that. But I just think we find it so hard to be faithful. Maybe not for a week. Maybe not even for a month, but how about years?

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: How many of us might say we're great starters, but not such great finishers?

Jocelyn: I have so many projects that I, have never been completed.

Janet: Put me in that group. Jocelyn, I don't even know when I first heard you use this phrase, but it was so picturesque to me when you said the phrase bulimic burst of energy.

Jocelyn: Well, I started

Janet: Tell me what you mean by that.

Jocelyn: Yeah. I started using that phrase when I worked at Vision of Hope, because we work with young ladies that have eating disorders or battling with disorderly eating. And that's just the way of life that I saw being lived out so often with someone who is not faithful, is that they would get this big, strong surge of energy and then take on something new and use all of their might to do that thing until they had no energy. And so then they quit.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: And so it was just swinging from one extreme to the other. And what would motivate the swings and the short termed faithfulness, if you wanna call it that, was they had a big burst of energy. And so they tackled their thing, whatever their thing was, until their energy ran out.

Jocelyn: And so bulimic burst of energy is just saying, I'm gonna do this thing. And from here on out, I'm going to do it perfectly.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: And then at some point, because you're not, relying on Jesus at all to do that thing.

Janet: Right.

Jocelyn: You're doing it cuz you wanted to do it. You run out of energy and then you just drop it, cuz you have some new goal that you're living for. So like some examples are like, I'm gonna organize my house. So I empty every cabinet in the kitchen, in this frenzy of productivity and energy, and I get to work. And maybe I'll finish the kitchen or maybe I'll not, but once the burst of energy is done, I am too. Like, I don't necessarily finish projects because I had a lot of energy and then it dropped off. Or I'm gonna steward my body better this year. So I'm gonna buy the hugest water bottle known to man.

Janet: Hey, don't mess on big water bottles.

Jocelyn: I'm gonna log every single morsel of food that goes into my mouth. I'm gonna buy tons of fruits and vegetables. I'm gonna write out the best exercise plan I've ever seen.

Jocelyn: And for me, my experience with this is it always happens in the middle of the night. When I can't sleep. My mind is racing. I plan out the perfect way of life and in the morning I'm going to do it. And then I wake up in the morning, I'm like nevermind.

Janet: Or if you're really faithful, you do it for like, you know, a day.

Jocelyn: A couple weeks or something. Or you, you know, there's so many things you can do, like buy a Bible study journal, get all the right colors of highlighters, make this big, huge plan. Say I'm going to study the Bible perfectly. And then, you can only hold out that energy for so long and then it just fizzles off.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: Or I'm gonna serve in a position in church. And I do it for a little while. And then I'm like I think it's somebody else's turn. And there's a reason that we acknowledge people who have served in the same Sunday school class for 20 years.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Like 20 years of teaching kindergarten. Can you imagine, like, I never got tired of it. My energy never got expended until I needed some new shiny idea to take over. And so faithfully doing the same thing over and over and over is the complete opposite of a bulimic burst of energy.

Janet: Yeah. And I would say, and sometimes they probably did get tired of it.

Jocelyn: Oh, I'm sure they did.

Janet: You know, but to go, but that's not how I make my decision.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: I'm gonna be faithful. Boy. What an evidence of the fruit of the Spirit alive in them. So at least can we say, faithfulness just doesn't come naturally.

Jocelyn: I think it's helpful to say that. I think it's helpful to acknowledge that. Because if I'm going to do the right thing over and over, until I die. To do the right thing, faithfully, it's going to take more than just me motivating myself to do that.

Janet: Yes. And now we live in a culture that I think makes it even harder to exhibit long term faithfulness. Now that doesn't mean-- it's always been supernatural.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: It's always been a fruit of the Spirit. But there was a time when it was lauded in society, when it was more expected.

Jocelyn: Like you retire from the job that you started in after college.

Janet: Yes. And therefore, at least you were pressured that direction.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: Even if it wasn't for godliness,

Jocelyn: right

Janet: you were pressured. And my dad was that way. He started working at General Electric when he was 20. And at that time, It was very common to just stay where you worked forever. And he retired from GE. You would not see that today.

Jocelyn: I think it was even that way when Brian and I first got married, which was 25 years ago. Like I remember having conversations with him about whether he should ever think about another job. And he was like, that's not how we work. We stay. We're committed to where we work. It's not that way now in our culture.

Janet: No.

Jocelyn: But I remember even in our early careers thinking those thoughts.

Janet: And now it's a different culture, so you don't have that pressure. It's even the same with marriages.

Jocelyn: Especially with marriages.

Janet: And again, I'm not suggesting previous generations were godly or now we're not. The heart of man is, and always has been deceitful and desperately wicked. But the culture did frown on infidelity.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: And people stayed married longer.

Jocelyn: And they didn't always stay married longer for the right reason.

Janet: Absolutely.

Jocelyn: Just like we're saying sometimes it's just because it would've been too shameful to separate, but

Janet: right.

Jocelyn: Yeah. The concept was marriage is a for life kind of thing.

Janet: So they were more faithful to their marriage. Not to God, but to their marriage. So now a lack of faithfulness and marriage isn't even unusual.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: So now we don't have a lot of external pressure encouraging our faithfulness. What we do have, if we know the Lord, is the supernatural help of the Spirit. But I do think that our current culture affects us more than we know.

Jocelyn: Yeah. But it also. To see this in a more balanced way. It also makes it possible for your light for Christ to shine even more brightly, because the culture is so different than what the scripture is talking about.

Janet: So you would think, well, yay. Believers should be so totally different in this area. So why is it so hard? Why are we that way?

Jocelyn: Yeah. Why is it so hard?

Janet: Well, first of all, I think we really think it's boring.

Jocelyn: I agree.

Janet: You know, we want novelty. We want the adrenaline rush. Honestly, I can even remember, when I was single and talking with other girls. The guy that was always faithful and dependable was not as exciting.

Jocelyn: Oh, poor faithful man.

Janet: When you think about that. I know.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: And you look back and you're like, how stupid was that?

Jocelyn: Yeah, he's the kind of guy you wanna be married to.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: He gets up and goes to work every day.

Janet: And that's not boring. But we want novelty. We want rush. We want something new. We don't want the same old, same old.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: I would say faithfulness has never been easy, but now that we're in a culture that defines happiness by new and different, faithfulness isn't even attractive.

Jocelyn: I agree.

Janet: Until of course someone's not faithful to me.

Jocelyn: Yeah. Because then it becomes extremely attractive if you're the one that got on the short end of that stick.

Janet: Yes. Yes. So running from one shiny thing to the next one, that's not hard.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: That's easy. And one reason we keep running is because that last new thing, it didn't work. It didn't satisfy. At some point, I hope people will stop running long enough to think about that. If faithfulness is so bad, why do you have to keep running to the next thing instead? Because the last thing just didn't work.

Jocelyn: Didn't work.

Janet: We tell ourselves I don't wanna settle for steady and reliable while we clamor after anything new. And we think somehow that variety's gonna satisfy us and bring us joy. And it never does. By contrast, have you ever, even once stuck with something hard? Showed a degree of faithfulness and accomplished it.

Jocelyn: Absolutely. It happens all the time and you get so much joy from doing it.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: You're like, I really believed I would not be able to do this. And especially if I relied on the Lord to give me strength to do this hard thing. The joy of faithfulness doesn't compare with the titillating excitement of something new and shiny that captures my attention.

Janet: Yes. And we know that like, even with your kids, if you give them something, do they appreciate it as much as if they worked really hard,

Jocelyn: No. Yeah.

Janet: saved their money, and then they bought it. And they're like, look what I got!

Jocelyn: They sacrificed for it. Yeah.

Janet: You know, there is more satisfaction there than the shallow of just something novel. The world's now telling us sex outside of marriage, outside of faithfulness, is better. It's more exciting. And many are buying that. But the fallout in their lives is telling us something else.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: And having now been married 29 years, the joy and satisfaction of faithfulness really can't be matched.

Jocelyn: I actually just saw a social media post that was a group of feminists discussing their just incredulity of where relationships were right now. How just crazy it was to try to think about raising a child on your own. And they got together and they made this novel idea for a covenant.

Janet: Uh oh. I can't wait.

Jocelyn: I know. I read it. I was like, this is crazy. They were like, if -- This was in response to the Roe V. Wade being overturned.

Janet: Okay.

Jocelyn: So they're no longer gonna have access to abortions. So if I'm going to have to carry this child, here are the things that I demand.

Jocelyn: I demand that you work and pay money, so that I don't have to pay my bills by myself. I demand that you're involved in my child's life. I demand that you are not going to leave my friendship. And as I read this, I was like, you are literally defining a marriage covenant.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Like what you want is faithfulness.

Janet: Wow.

Jocelyn: But what you don't want is the commitment. And so that fallout, like the fallout tells us it's not exciting to be dumped.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: It's not exciting to not be taken care of. It's not scintillating to have your needs be unmet because of the lack of faithfulness. It was just so crazy.

Janet: Wow. That, I mean, that's exciting because they're beginning to see it.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: Whether they put it together yet or not,

Jocelyn: It's defeating

Janet: they're seeing God's way is better.

Jocelyn: Absolutely.

Janet: The way of faithfulness really is better, and it's not boring. But it takes time to discover that. What's easy is run to the next exciting thing with another bulimic burst of energy. That's easy. It takes time to discover that. And the another thing I think that makes faithfulness so hard is we naturally, and in our culture want instant results. Faithfulness requires a longer attention span. And I'm convinced that ours are getting shorter and shorter.

Jocelyn: I agree. Especially with like virtual reality and things like that.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: Like AI, like you can dream it and it can be true. Yeah. And so instantly true results are what everybody wants.

Janet: And we think about that. Five minutes in a fast food line, we're complaining, because that's way too long.

Jocelyn: Way too long.

Janet: When your internet has that circle of sanctification, that's so irritating. And what does it take? 10 seconds.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: But we want instant. And faithfulness is the opposite of that.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: So it's hard. The results of faithfulness can take years.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: And nobody's got time for that.

Jocelyn: But I'm pretty thankful that God is faithful to me forever. For years and years and years. For eternity. Like that's one of the reasons I love him so much. He's still gonna do what he said he was gonna do thousands and thousands of years ago.

Janet: Yes. So we want quick results.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: We think it's boring. I think it's also hard because in many ways it's invisible.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: In this world of social media, we're clamoring for likes. Faithfulness doesn't draw attention.

Jocelyn: Yeah. It really doesn't.

Janet: And that's what we're looking for. This other article in Desiring God by Scott Hubbard called Faithfulness in Forgotten Places, he says this: forgotten places are those corners of the world where no one seems to be watching, where our efforts go unseen, unthanked.

Janet: Oswald Chambers writes, we do not need the grace of God to stand crises. Human nature and pride are sufficient. We can face the strain magnificently. But it does require the supernatural grace of God to live 24 hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live in an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.

Jocelyn: That's deep.

Janet: Isn't that powerful.

Jocelyn: That's very powerful.

Janet: And I, I don't even believe it's wrong that we desire that our efforts would be noticed. But the question is noticed by whom? Hebrews 6:10 says this, for God is not unjust. He will not forget your work. And the love you demonstrated for his name by serving the saints and by continuing to serve them. For one thing, see the faithfulness there. It wasn't, remember that one time you served the saints. It was and continuing to serve them. And God sees. He appreciates your labor when no one else does. So true faithfulness is gonna require a vertical focus.

Jocelyn: I often talk to people about decision making. And it's interesting how so many people wanna make sure they know God's will for the big decisions of their life. Who will I marry? What should I study in college? How many children should I have? And you're talking exactly that. Like, there are millions of decisions that we make throughout every single year of our life. And those decisions require faithfulness.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Not just the once in a lifetime huge decisions. Like we live our life mostly where no one will ever see except for Christ.

Janet: Right.

Jocelyn: That should be faithful.

Janet: And that brings to the surface, am I living for Christ? Because him seeing would be enough.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: And so it surfaces other things that I'm living for. I also think it's hard because quite frankly, we just have worldly values.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: In the book Ordinary by Michael Horton, he addresses the need even among believers to be radical, to think outside the box. To do something big for God. To be great.

Jocelyn: I'm so glad you're addressing this topic. I find so many people, especially women, who believe that they have to do something big for God. And in doing something big for God, they're willing to usurp a lot of faithfulness in other areas that should not be neglected for that big, great thing.

Janet: Right. So to think about that. So now I'm going after something God doesn't say I have to do.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: And in doing that I'm sinning.

Jocelyn: And you're neglecting, right. You're neglecting faithfulness.

Janet: Because he commands me to be faithful.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: Yeah. So we think it's do these great things against the backdrop of the mediocrity of faithfulness.

Janet: It's like faithful is what anybody can do. That's mediocrity. And from a worldly perspective, that makes a lot of sense, cuz it's all about the results that the world would see.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: But not in God's upside down kingdom. Listen to this quote from his book, caring for a homeless kid is a lot more thrilling to me than listening well to the people in my home.

Jocelyn: Ouch.

Janet: Giving away clothes and seeking out edgy Christian communities requires less of me than being kind to my husband on an average Wednesday morning, or calling my mother back when I don't feel like it.

Jocelyn: Yeah. Ouch.

Janet: I know so true. He also addresses the charge of mediocrity in what he calls the ordinary. According to Horton, excellence is going over and beyond the call of duty. But to what end? More than anything else, excellence demands a worthy object, and a worthy goal. So biblically defined true excellence has others in mind: first God, and then our neighbor.

Jocelyn: That's super helpful. Because it's not like you're just gonna be doing drudgery till death. It's you're doing ordinary things extraordinarily for God. And for the people that he's placed in your life.

Janet: With excellence.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: Yeah. It's actually the disdain for ordinary faithfulness that leads to mediocrity. What do I mean by that? You're not trying very hard to do your faithfully normal things excellently.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: That's mediocrity.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: Because you're devaluing your faithfulness.

Jocelyn: Cause it's not important. So you just do it as rough as you can.

Janet: Yeah. When I understand the importance of long term faithfulness and when loving God and loving others in mind. I will go above and beyond in my faithfulness in order to best love those around me. And that is supernatural.

Jocelyn: And that draws people's attention to God, who you are representing. You're doing ordinary things inside of your home for your family in an extraordinarily faithful way.

Janet: Yes. Yes. I worked in the college ministry for many, many years, and I can remember having conversations with young women who were growing in their love for their savior. And they'd tell me how they wanted to do great things for God. I can't remember any of them telling me that they wanted to display the rare and supernatural quality of faithfulness. One precious young lady. I just remember her. She expressed concern that our church wasn't doing enough of the big things that she was reading about in other places. And it was a real privilege over time to help her see that God defines big, important things differently than we do. Which is another evidence of his upside down kingdom.

Jocelyn: Absolutely.

Janet: So for these reasons and so many more, it's always been rare. And that is understood in the Bible. Proverbs 20 verse six says this, many, a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find? Interesting. Many people will say I'll be steadfast and yet they're not faithful. Well, hopefully at this point we would at least say, I see that it's supernatural. I see that it's really hard and I'm not as faithful as I wanna be. How am I gonna grow?

Jocelyn: Mm, yeah.

Janet: I think one of the ways is what you mentioned earlier, Jocelyn, even in response, as we were talking, just focusing on God's faithfulness. Before I'm gonna grow in my faithfulness, I've gotta be rejoicing in and meditating on God's faithfulness. John Bloom in that article Devote Yourself to Faithfulness says all of reality, not to mention your eternal future, literally depends on God being true to his word.

Jocelyn: Which we absolutely depend on. Like he said something thousands of years ago, and we are absolutely confident that he will do it possibly thousands of years from now. Yep. We don't know how long it's gonna take, but our confidence is that he's trustworthy. He's going to do the things that he said he's going to do.

Janet: And we're banking our eternal soul on that.

Jocelyn: Yes.

Janet: So how important is faithfulness? Oh, my word. If he was only 98% faithful, that'd be terrifying.

Jocelyn: It would be. It would be. It's crucial.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Faithfulness-- knowing God's faithfulness is crucial for us to understand.

Janet: Yeah. So God's faithfulness is not boring.

Jocelyn: No.

Janet: And it's not inconsequential. It's beautiful, and it's life-giving. And God's faithfulness gives me confidence and security that allows me to flourish. My faithfulness allows others to flourish as well. That's how I get to image God. It matters. It's beautiful. And it's powerful.

Jocelyn: Absolutely.

Janet: So if we're gonna grow, we need to agree with God about the beauty of it, and we need to meditate and rejoice in his faithfulness.

Jocelyn: And the more we think about his faithfulness, the more we're gonna have the capacity to image that well.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: To live it out in our own life.

Janet: I think we also need to focus on his providence. Do you believe in the sovereignty of God? Well, we say, we do. Think about how that gives you confidence. If you actually believe that God is in control of everything, the confidence it gives you that he has put you where you are, and he sees. Whatever you're doing, it may be unseen or forgotten to many people, but not to God. I like how Hubbard says it. Every scrap of unseen obedience will find its fitting reward.

Jocelyn: I remember thinking about that concept a lot when folding the endless pairs of socks. Like who,

Janet: The fact that you got pairs of socks. That's awesome.

Jocelyn: I worked hard for those pairs. But it's like, you're doing things faithfully that nobody will literally ever know.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: But you're doing them for the Lord. He put you in that exact place because that's where he wanted you. And if I didn't believe in the providence of God, banking on his sovereignty, then I would've questioned why doing these little faithful things was worth it.

Janet: and what an act of love. Cuz again, what's excellence first loving God, then loving my neighbor. Even if your family never recognized why there was always socks in their drawer, you were loving them and helping them flourish.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: So that they could do other things. I love that. So, if we're gonna grow in faithfulness, we need to focus on God's faithfulness. We need to focus on his providence, and we just need to practice. Yep. Many of us know Psalm 37:3. I have Psalm 37:3-7 on a note card to help me when I'm struggling with unfair treatment. But for right now, let's just focus on verse 3. In the NASB it says this, Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Jocelyn: That's such a cool phrase.

Janet: I love that. Now, when I was looking at that in different versions, it says a lot of different things other than cultivate faithfulness. So I went to my resident Hebrew scholar, my husband. And he did some digging for me and it was so interesting. Cultivate faithfulness, the word cultivate is literally the word shepherd. And he said, it's a command. And it's telling you you're commanded to shepherd, which shepherding is always an ongoing process. Shepherd your soul. You're being commanded to tend to your soul, cultivate faithfulness, tend to your soul. And he said it's the idea of focusing on God's standard of righteousness, his faithfulness, and he said, that's gonna include ordinary justice, fairness, integrity, all of that's, part of being faithful to God in his word. So he starts with saying, I have to trust the Lord. I trust his Providence, where he has me and I trust his character. Then what will I do? I'll prioritize doing good. And I'll stay in the land where he's put me at least for now. And I will cultivate, I will shepherd and tend to my soul. I will learn faithfulness there.

Jocelyn: That's so cool.

Janet: Faithfulness needs to be cultivated and practiced intentionally look at your current opportunities to be faithful. How can you cultivate faithfulness now? You know, it's so tempting. I still remember working with college kids. They'll be faithful once they're done with school and they're working. Well, then they'll be faithful once they're married and they settle down. Well, I'll be faithful once I'm not working and I have kids and I'm

Jocelyn: Always some future thing.

Janet: Yes. Where you are now, how can you cultivate, shepherd, tend your soul toward faithfulness. So I cultivate it in the land where I'm currently dwelling or staying. Instead of looking for a way out, at least for now, this is the land I'm in and here is where I'm to cultivate and learn faithfulness. And then verse six makes it clear. God will allow your righteousness, that results from that faithfulness to shine at the proper time.

Jocelyn: That's so cool.

Janet: So as I exercise the muscles of faithfulness in small ways, I'll be preparing for larger opportunities and we see that in Luke 16. So we gotta practice. I also think it's important, we have to look at ourselves, honestly.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: Be honest and humble about your own weaknesses in this area. Cuz then you can get appropriate accountability and structures to help you as you learn.

Jocelyn: That's a great idea.

Janet: You know, I've always said I love being in small groups in part because if I'm tempted to not be in the word. The fact

Jocelyn: You'll get found out.

Janet: I, and I'm usually leading the group. My conscience will not let me come to a group and have done all the week's study in a day.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: I can't do that with a clear conscience. So I think, well, there's just a structure,

Jocelyn: a built in, yeah.

Janet: That helps me do what I know I need to do and want to do, but sometimes my flesh is weak so that helps me. So know yourself. So if you struggle to be faithful long term in studying the word, then join a small group with extra accountability. Do you instead long for those extraordinary graces, whatever we think those are, rather than Bible study prayer, scripture, memorization, fighting sin, loving and serving others. What is my soul clamoring after? And I need to be honest with myself.

Jocelyn: And there's a reason that those are called the spiritual disciplines. Those, the regular Bible study, prayer meditation. They help us in our disciplined-ness.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: They help us to grow in faithfulness.

Janet: Yeah, we need them. I also think it's really helpful, look at the end of the path. Think ahead. At the degree of faithfulness that I have now, where am I headed? Listen to this in Matthew 25. I'm gonna read verse 21 or 23 because they're the same. his master said to him. Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things. I will put you in charge of many things share in your master's joy. I love that verses 21 and 23 are exactly the same. The difference is he's talking to two different servants. One was given five talents and gave back 10. One was given two talents and gave back four. But their commendation is the same.

Jocelyn: That's really encouraging.

Janet: Yeah. It doesn't matter. It's that they were faithful. And that brought joy to their master, not their results, but their faithfulness.

Jocelyn: Don't you think that's empowering? We don't have to make sure it turns out a certain way. We just need to faithfully do what's right in the middle of it.

Janet: Yes. And that is the opposite of the world. The world doesn't care how you get there.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: They only want results.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: And God says I'm in charge of the results. So it's not even your deal. You be faithful. And then that brings him joy. So we need to look at the end of the path. For them, they got the joy of their master and they got to be in charge of many things. They got greater

Jocelyn: responsibility

Janet: because they were faithful.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: And less. We see the same thing in first Corinthians 4:2, what is required in stewards? It says that they be faithful. Not great results, not success, not many converts.

Jocelyn: How encouraging and helpful. You just are required to be faithful.

Janet: Yes. And that brings God joy. In part because it's an act of obedience and it's also manifesting his character, which is faithfulness.

Jocelyn: That's so cool. We get a chance to show who he really is by us acting like him.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: In faithfulness.

Janet: In being faithful. Yeah. Chris Martin, in another article, The Unique Joy of Ordinary Faithfulness, says this true fulfillment is found in an ordinary life of serving an extraordinary God, not an extravagant life of novel distractions.

Jocelyn: That is beautiful. We should cross stitch that and hang that in our house.

Janet: If only I knew how to cross stitch, I've not been faithful enough to learn that. So why don't we just spend a little bit of time looking at some examples

Jocelyn: Let's do. Yeah.

Janet: Of faithfulness in scripture. First Psalm 71 in verse six, the Psalmist says he has leaned on God since his birth. I'm gonna call that pretty faithful.

Jocelyn: Wow.

Janet: And according to verse 17, he still proclaims God's wondrous works. You know, I think sometimes we think that a radical conversion later in life is the greatest backdrop to see the power of God and his redemption. And those changes are beautiful to see. That's the story God's given many people.

Jocelyn: Right.

Janet: But I would submit to you that someone who's been faithful for an entire life and finishes strong shows the supernatural power of God in a unique way.

Jocelyn: Yeah. That's really encouraging to moms and grandmas who are just faithfully doing the right thing with their family every day and raising their children to love Jesus from the time that they're little.

Janet: Yeah.

Jocelyn: And they grow up and go on to live faithfully. Not everyone has a dramatic salvation story.

Janet: Right.

Jocelyn: And that faithfulness. Is uniquely bearing the image of god.

Janet: Yes. Yes. Years of trusting God, no matter the circumstance, years of displaying his character to those around him. It's supernatural and it's powerful. Whenever and wherever he found us, we just need his help to be faithful to the end. Some examples from scripture. And we'll put these in the show notes, some of the verses that go with these, but think about Abram and I've got Nehemiah 9, Hebrews 11. He was faithful for years, one step at a time. He didn't see answers for years and he didn't see many descendants ever.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: We think about Moses and his faithfulness. Hebrews three tells us about that. He's in the hall of faith as well. And in Numbers 12. Daniel being faithful, serving a pagan wicked king, and how God used him in that.

Jocelyn: I really have been encouraged by thinking about that. Like Daniel was taken from his home country and forced to serve a wicked king.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: And when you read the book, it covers decades.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Like that book covers many, many years. And what you see throughout the book is Daniel faithfully doing what he was brought to that country to do.

Janet: Yes. And God using it.

Jocelyn: Yep.

Janet: Using his faithfulness.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: Timothy being faithful, and the faithfulness of his mother and grandmother that put Timothy in a position to then travel with Paul. Silvanus. Interesting, in 1 Peter 5:12, we don't know much about him. Here's what was noteworthy in that verse: his faithfulness.

Jocelyn: Wouldn't that be cool to be included in the Bible? And the one thing that was talked about about you was how faithful you were?

Janet: Amazing. Yes. Job and his faithfulness. Tychicus. Colossians four seven says he's a beloved brother, a faithful servant, a fellow bond servant. These were the commendations he was given. Epaphras in Colossians 1:7 beloved fellow bondservant, faithful servant of Christ. Onesimus, Colossians 4:9, faithful and beloved brother. Those were commendations because that's important. And of course, God himself. God's faithfulness is our only confidence, and we see God's faithfulness all throughout scripture. I'm just gonna read a few of them because I think it's just good for us to revel in that.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: Exodus 34:6, the Lord passed in front of him and proclaimed the Lord. The Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in a faithful love and truth. Deuteronomy 32:4. The rock. His work is perfect. All his ways are just. A faithful God without bias. He is righteous and true. Psalm 36:7. How priceless your faithful love is, God. People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. Imagine trying to take refuge in the shadow of someone who's not faithful.

Jocelyn: You couldn't trust them?

Janet: No.

Janet: Psalm 52:1. Why boast about evil you hero? God's faithful love is constant.

Janet: Psalm 119:89-91. Lord, your word is forever. It is firmly fixed in heaven. Your faithfulness is for all generations. You establish the earth and it stands firm. Your judgments stand firm today. His word is forever. His faithfulness is for all generations. Judgments stand firm.

Jocelyn: And that's so, oh, I can just relax into that because I need to know how to think about things. And if I think about things, his way, his judgments are not gonna change.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: They're gonna stand firm. He's going to think about things exactly the same way in 40 years as he does right now.

Janet: Which is why we can say, as we do, always go back to the word. Always go back to the word.

Jocelyn: Always.

Janet: So when I am confused, I can go back to the word of God and not wonder is this true? I know it's true. And I know he'll be faithful to it. Psalm 106:1, Psalm 107:1, Psalm 136:1, says give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His faithful love endures forever. 1 Corinthians 1:9 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, God is faithful. 1 Peter 4:19. So then let those who suffer according to God's will entrust themselves to a faithful creator while doing what is good.

Jocelyn: I love that passage.

Janet: Yeah. It's his faithfulness that motivates our ability to suffer well.

Jocelyn: Yeah.

Janet: So yeah, his faithfulness is supernatural and it's a big deal. And our ordinary faithfulness is actually extraordinary and supernatural. When you see someone who exemplifies this, you're seeing someone emulate God in a very powerful way. In a world that prioritizes results and big, noticeable impact, let's grow to value what God values and let's encourage it in the lives of the people around us.

Jocelyn: This was so good. I'm so glad we're talking about this. It's so discouraging sometimes to think, like I just get up and do the same thing every single day.

Janet: Yep.

Jocelyn: And what you're saying is that God says that's a good thing. Get up and do the same faithful thing every single day.

Janet: Yes. Yes. Let me read to you just a couple of other quotes as we're closing, and then we'll talk just quickly about how to apply it, though we kind of did that throughout. Hudson Taylor said this: a little thing is a little thing, but faithfulness in little things is a great thing.

Jocelyn: That's cool.

Janet: Isn't that cool?

Jocelyn: That's cool.

Janet: Oswald Chambers wrote it is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God. But we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets among mean people. And this is not learned in five minutes.

Jocelyn: Yeah. That is really, that's an encouraging quote. Wow.

Janet: Yeah. And Hubbard, Scott Hubbard goes on to say, God sometimes does call us to do exceptional things for him, to adopt children, to launch ministries, to plant churches, to move overseas. But the point still holds, because none of us will do anything exceptional unless we have first learned through 10,000 steps of faithfulness to be exceptional in the ordinary.

Jocelyn: That's beautiful.

Janet: Isn't that great?

Jocelyn: To be exceptional in the ordinary.

Janet: Yes, because it's not wrong that you want to plant churches, move overseas, but that's a result of the faithfulness you've shown.

Jocelyn: Of years of faithfulness. Yeah.

Janet: Yeah. So in our lives we wanna accomplish what Paul challenges the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:11 now also finish the task. So that just as there was an eager desire, there may also be a completion, according to what you have.

Jocelyn: Good word.

Janet: That's him talking about giving. But finish the task. Finish your commitment. I know we usually have a section on application. I hope it's pretty obvious.

Jocelyn: I think there's lots.

Janet: Be faithful.

Jocelyn: I think it's lots of ways that we can apply faithfulness.

Janet: Yes. So just some questions I wanna leave you with to think about. Do I see ways I've been faithful over time? Do I see it in my marriage? Do I see it wherever I'm serving? Do I see it in my job?

Jocelyn: And it's possible that you're gonna look at your life and say, what I see is times that I haven't been faithful over time. And that's fine to recognize and then say, and now we're gonna grow in those areas.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Cause I think you and I both would look at our life and say, I can see areas where I've not been faithful.

Janet: For sure.

Jocelyn: So it's not at all or nothing.

Janet: Yes.

Jocelyn: Bulemic burst of energy in faithfulness. It's saying when you look at what's going on, do you see areas where you are? And if not, what would it look like to grow?

Janet: Yes. Yes. That's part of the whole, be honest with yourself that we talked about earlier. I can't change if I'm unwilling to see it. Do I start things and lose interest quickly? Serve for a while and then quit? Avoid commitments that require long term faithfulness? Is there at least one way I can choose to agree with God and take a step of increased faithfulness today?

Jocelyn: I can, I can think of one way that I can grow in faithfulness by thinking about this today. So I'm so glad we're talking about this. What a great topic for us to start the new year with.

Janet: Yes. Yes. We will have the resources that I mentioned in the show notes, the articles that you can link to. But as we're closing, I just wanna tell you, you heard about it in our resource break in the middle of this podcast, we are so excited about our scripture memory challenge.

Jocelyn: I'm very excited about it.

Janet: Yes. And we hope that you're gonna join us in memorizing Psalm 37:3-7. Send us your videos about that. And then we'll put you in for the drawing so that you can get some cool resources.

Jocelyn: That will be so cool.

Janet: I hope you can join us next time as we continue on the journey.

To keep from missing any future episodes, please sign up for our newsletter on our webpage joyfuljourneypod.com. From there you can also subscribe to this podcast on Apple, Google, or Spotify. You can also visit us on our Facebook page or Instagram at Joyful Journey Podcast. If you have questions or comments for us, you can email us at joyfuljourneyquestions@outlook.com. Joyful Journey Podcast is a ministry of Faith Bible Seminary. All proceeds go to offset costs of this podcast and toward scholarships for women to receive their MABC through Faith Bible Seminary.

Host Janet and her husband, Brent, also speak at a variety of conferences as a way to raise money for the seminary. If you want to look at what they offer or book them for a conference, go to their website.

Janet Aucoin


Janet is the Director of Women's Ministry at Faith Church (Lafayette, IN); Host of the Joyful Journey Podcast (helping women learn that when you choose truth you choose joy); ACBC certified; teacher in Faith Community Institute; Coordinator of FBS seminary wives fellowship, retreat and conference speaker; B.S. Human Resources, University of South Florida.