“Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgement.  And God permitting, we will do so.”  Hebrews 6:1-3

This is one of those Mondays when taking up a pen (actually sitting down at the keyboard) becomes therapeutic.  It’s the thing to do when Sunday hasn’t gone that well, when things didn’t fall into place, when some frustrations simmering underneath the surface hit the boiling point, and when you begin to hear that nagging little voice in the back of your mind that tells you “you’re wasting your time, and you’re not getting paid enough for it anyway.”  So I’ll sit down at the keyboard after experiencing a Sunday when the cumulative effect of a thousand petty complaints are still fresh in my mind.  I’ll try to be gentle.

 Trust me, I certainly know I can’t make some kind of exclusive claim on maturity.  I’ve been a Christian for 30 years now, so I have been at this for a while, and all of that has been in vocational ministry of one kind or another.  My prayer is that I have made some progress in the right direction, and that God’s grace will have to fill in the rest. 

But, I do wonder.

I wonder if we will ever become so hungry for worship, and so thirsty for the presence of the Spirit in our worship that our music preferences, or our theatrical or artistic tastes, or our oratory criticism will be of no consequence.  Even if we don’t sense the moving of the Spirit, will we be respectful enough to simply sit or stand quietly, without whispering and nodding at the people who are lifting their hands? 

I wonder if we will ever get to the point where there are enough leaders in a local body of believers who will stand up and put their Spiritual gifts to use instead of waiting for others to use theirs.  Will we get to the point where the majority of the church’s resources actually go into missions and ministry, and not into programs that exist solely for the purpose of entertaining the members of the congregation who are already saved?

I wonder if we will ever get to the point where asking a woman to substitute teach in an adult Sunday school class doesn’t generate half a dozen phone calls to the church office on Monday morning.  Will we ever get to the point where the air temperature in the church sanctuary or classrooms, or the room decor, or the proximity of parking to the front door, or the volume of the sound system, or the scheduled times of worship and classes, or any one of a hundred petty, insignificant things are not the main topic of conversation between the members of the church and the staff on any given Sunday morning? 

I wonder if we will ever see the day when a mistake made by a church staff member, or a decision made by a leader or committee doesn’t results in threats of members to leave and find another church that will do things the way they want them done. 

Can you tell what the past eight or ten days have been like in my church?

It’s enough to make you get down on your knees and pray…

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

8 responses

  1. David Lowrie says:

    Lee,

    Thank you for your openness and honesty. Few of us are ready to admit what we really feel. I pray the Lord will calm the storm of frustration in your soul.

    It has always helped me to remind myself, these are “His people” who He has entrusted to me for a season. I am not their Savior, I am their pastor, called to love them and to lead them.

    Bonhoeffer reminds us in his book “Life Together” reminds us that it is the hypocrisy and brokenness of the church that drives us to the Lord as our source of life and hope.

    I pray the Lord and His presence will be your drink and the meat for your soul.

    Your Friend,
    David

  2. wpburleson says:

    Lee,

    What you so courageously wrote as to how you felt and what you thought after a Sunday reminded me of someone.

    In Exodus 17:4 Moses cries to the Lord that the people were ready to kill him. He is probably thinking it might be better if that were their lot in life__but that internal assessment is not ours to know.

    In Exodus 32:11-12 The Lord IS ready to kill them [a little bit strong] but Moses cries out reminding the Lord they are His people and don’t do it.

    My question, were I able to ask Moses, would be “Which is it? Do you want God to kill them or do you want God to spare them and bless them?” I think his answer would have been “yes.”

    I often found myself in that paradoxical position when I pastored. [You are pastoring_though not the Pastor] Most do. You’re just one of those rare individuals who is comfortable enough with who he is in the Lord and confident enough in who the Lord is in you to share it with us. Thanks.

  3. Lee says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. Knowing that there are others who have experienced the same, and have developed a deep understanding of it is one way God uses to bring comfort and peace. I think there is some spiritual discipline in being able to talk about the way you feel, in the valley as well as on the mountaintop. And see, I got some real blessing from your responses.

    Getting down on your knees works really well, too. Last night I met with one of our key committees, and a couple of them were having some of the same feelings. But God turned the meeting into a genuine blessing and time of uplifting and encouragement. At least, I know I am not wasting my time. Now, as to whether or not I am getting paid enough…..;-)

  4. wpburleson says:

    Paid enough? NEVER. [But oh the retirement benefits….:)]

  5. JMatthews says:

    I suppose they are out of this world. 🙂

  6. David Lowrie says:

    Lee,

    I came across this qoute from Oswald Chambers this morning:

    “There are times in your spiritual life when there is confusion, and the way out of it is not simply to say that you should not be confused. It is not a matter of right and wrong, but a matter of God taking you through a way that you temporarily do not understand. And it is only by going through the spiritual confusion that you will come to the understanding of what God wants for you”.

    I have to admit over the past several weeks I too have been confused about the path before me. I have often wondered if I have chosen the right path. Am I hearing God?

    It was encouraging to know that “my confusion” will lead to deeper understanding about myself and more importantly about God and his purposes for my life.

    I need to remind myself to enjoy the journey because I am following Jesus and He knows where He is going even when I don’t.

    Hang in there.

    Your partner on the journey.
    David

  7. Dylan says:

    There’s nothing like a reading from Oswald Chambers to soothe the soul, next to the scriptures themselves.

    If it makes you feel any better, there might be some comfort in knowing that there have been several similar occurrences in our congregation in the past couple of weeks. Just know that there will be some bright spots, and that Christians do grow into maturity, though sometimes we regress and sometimes we don’t grow very fast.

  8. kudakwashe john svosve says:

    I am a Zimbabwean christian, my eyes keep opening up to the reality of life-being more in line with God’s plan. The country of my birth is going through tough times, but it’s more than that. I see it as a distraction from the reality that God is coming back to judge. We all have issues and problems. I find it very difficult to get through to my church leaders cause of the depth to which the culture here has gotten into christianity here. I believe as christians we are suppossed to be on a higher level, but I get so discouraged sometimes because of the build up of circumstances in my country and the hyper inflation. However I end up realising that it’s all just to make me forget the reality of the battle between good and evil and this is just temporary. So i keep being brought back by God to this point where my faith is yearning to go deeper, but the fear of other christians keeps downplaying what I keep trying to show them. This world is just a system distracting us from God and the reality of he praise and worship due to His name, and the reality of Jesus Christ as our saviour.