Preteens literally feel pain in their bones during adolescence. Hot messes (count me in) feel pain when we realize exactly how hot of a mess we are. And institutions endure deep pain upon realizing that they can no longer thrive without without re-examining the reason they exist.
We learn so much through pain, but few of us choose the painful route.
In churches, it’s just easier . . .
- To keep the long term administrative assistant even though she’s kind of a gossip and won’t learn Excel.
- To keep the long term music director even though he doesn’t play well with others.
- To keep the ineffective pastor because she’s only 8 years from retirement.
- To keep half a million dollars in the Cemetery Fund when we need those funds for mission because we don’t want to confront the gentlemen who controls the Cemetery Fund.
And so we languish in our current state of being and there is little spark in our lives (or in our institutions.) There is hope and light ahead – but only if we wade through some painful realizations. I’m not going to suggest what they are, but I will say that they are usually obvious to everyone but ourselves.
Trust is required for such moments as these:
- Do we trust the colleagues and friends who tell us the difficult news that we need to tweak (or overhaul) our lives?
- Do we trust our spiritual leaders who tell us that the church of our childhood will never come back?
- Do we trust that God has got this? AND that God expects us to participate?
I have a fantasy that goes like this: I visit a congregation and they tell me all the wonderful things God is doing among them. And then they ask me what they could do to expand their ministry and spiritual growth. And then they actually choose to do those things – prayerfully of course. And then their ministry and spiritual maturity is expanded! And then they say, “That was really hard, but God was with us and it was totally worth it.”
Image of the 20th President of the United States.