In this weekend’s message we reflected on John 6 where Jesus lays out some pretty heavy teaching and then watches as many of the people following him grumble and complain and eventually leave. They quit being his disciples. Guess what? It hurt, it felt bad, Jesus hurt and felt bad. Just like we do when stuff like that happens to us.
I had a couple of unhappy customers who came my way this past weekend. I call them customers because they approach this whole thing as consumers more interested in what they’re going to get than in what they’re going to give. And when they don’t get what they want they walk away…but not before they do some grumbling and complaining. One of these complaints was quite silly and came from someone I don’t even know. The other was sadder, coming from someone who has been around for a while and done some great good but who has a basic misunderstanding of what this is all about. Both situations made me feel bad.
If we’re doing our job as ministers or leaders, if I’m doing my job as Pastor, ministry is going to be painful (and if we stay in long enough the pain will actually increase).
What are our common responses to pain?
We can run from it, that’s my first instinct, but that is definitely not following Jesus’ example. He took an intense amount of pain for us and never ran from it.
We can deny it…after all, we are leaders, right? We aren’t supposed to hurt, we’re suppose to suck it up and smile and be superhuman. Denying pain will only bring about physical, emotional and spiritual issues and stress that we should not have to deal with and probably won’t deal with effectively. If a leader is going to lead well then he must be honest about the pain he goes through.
We can take that hurt and hurt someone else. Many times our response when we hurt is to hurt others. Obviously wrong. In fact, it’s probably what was behind the hurt that was inflicted on us because hurt people hurt people.
Or, we can pray through it. Jesus did not promise us a life free from pain, he did not promise his disciples an easy time. In fact he promised them that if they were serving him they could expect to hurt and suffer, it would be confirmation that they’re serving him. That was his life:
people doubted him, and mocked him and called him names and gossiped about him and tried to make him look bad. And then he was betrayed by a friend and murdered.
He endured more pain than we ever will and he never quit, he prayed through it. He prayed through the pain and the result was something the world has never seen.
Some of the most amazing leaders on the planet are not the ones who have never dealt with pain. They’re the ones that have been willing to pray through it and learn from the pain and the criticism and complaint and whatever else happened. We can learn from it. When I experience pain I try my best (which is not very good) to learn from it so that I won’t have to go through that lesson again.
Some lessons I think I learned more about this weekend…
He is the Lord of heaven AND earth.
(It’s amazing how often I forget this or act like its not so)
He will handle those who oppose his work.
(My responsibility is to focus on his work.)
Giving thanks on a more frequent basis is the
best medication for my worry and stress.
(Working out helps too).