My 2 year old son Levi keeps trying to force his toys to do things that they are not made to do. He is really creative. Sometimes the outcome is really amazing, and he finds a fun new entertainment. Most of the time though, he just gets frustrated and angry. He ends up throwing the toys across the room yelling, “it’s not working, Momma!” Then, he dramatically throws himself on the floor as though it is the end of the world. It’s hard not to laugh at the display, honestly. Yet, I see his dilemma. It wouldn’t work, no matter how hard he tried. So he had to give up, and it destroyed his spirit.
Have you ever had a situation like this? You put your heart into something, hoping the result will be something fantastic. The pieces just don’t seem to fit, though, no matter how you rework them. At some point, you have to stop. You have to take a look at what you are working with and realize it cannot be forced. Some pieces just won’t fit. However, it is not the end of the world. It may not even be the end of that goal. The energy you have put into it may have worn you thin and pushed you to the point of exhaustion. This may require some recoup time. It may mean that you need to work with something else. Sometimes you need to consider your approach. Or, it could be God wants you to put your efforts into a different goal.
It is so easy to see the problems. You know? How often do you find yourself complaining throughout the day? Especially about the littlest things. Have you ever had a complete meltdown after simply spilling coffee on your pants? It is very likely you have been dealing with a more difficult situation for some time when this happens. Oftentimes, what we think are the problems are actually symptoms of a deeper cause. This is not always so easy to tell. It also seems that criticism is so quickly given, but it is not so easy to swallow when you are on the receiving end. “Constructive criticism” is always best, but even with this we must be careful. Complaining and criticizing can destroy spirits. It can stunt growth. It can wear down the most dedicated and Holy Spirit led person to the point of apathy. Because if all a person hears is what they are doing wrong, then he or she will start thinking that they can do nothing right. So what does any effort matter? It can feed depression.
Yes, we are each responsible for our own responses to what the world gives. But Ephesians 4:32 says “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Romans 15:1 says that “we who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failing of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” God wants us to have a positive, uplifting impact on each other. Even when rebuking, we are to be “gentle.” We should have some consideration for each other and be sensitive to difficult circumstances. When we “bear each others’ burdens, we fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Have you noticed the large amount of blogs and articles pinpointing the problems in churches? It is staggering. I know it is necessary that we take a good look at trends and make leadership as well as volunteers aware of what is coming or what may already be happening subtlety. However, I would venture to say most of us that spend a good amount of time in church see these obviously. We don’t need the reinforcement. We don’t need the discouragement. We need solutions. I was searching for ideas for a specific type of ministry yesterday, and all I saw were “problems” with these kinds of ministries and reasons why this ministry isn’t working as well as why people are leaving the church. I never saw a solution. I put down my phone and felt defeated. Then, I remembered the importance of the church to the kingdom of God. Acts 20:28 says “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” These people I desire to pour into are important to God. They are important for the future of the church. It would be irresponsible for me to ignore them, to push away the moving of the Holy Spirit.
As individuals in the church, we each play an important role in the future of the church and especially in the future of the kingdom of God. What we do matters. What we say matters. How we are involved matters. How we serve matters. It is easy to get discouraged when we are focused on our personal goals and when we don’t see quick progression in areas where God really does want us working. The important thing is that we are stepping up and filling a need, while being led by the Spirit. So often, there is a void because we don’t take a chance or take the initiative and start the ball rolling. Sure, we are going to see problems with growth and problems with commitment and see a lack of passion. We are in a mission with humans that are bombarded every minute with distractions and hard choices. Every one of us matters, though. If the solution to the problem isn’t clear, we should not give up. We may need to stop and take a good look. We may need to tackle the heart of the problem. We need to have positive, open communication with the leadership and with other members. We need to encourage one another. If you have a passion for a specific ministry and can fill a need, do it! If you see a need, fill it! There will be hurdles to jump and problems to solve. It may take time and hard work to see progress. Whatever the solution, it is best achieved through conversation with God and seeking through His word.
I applaud Levi for trying something awesome, even when it doesn’t work the way he hopes. My job is to support him, encourage him, direct him, rejoice with him and comfort him.