Tag Archives: frustration

Postmortem for a Dream – Part Four

In February 2011, I wrote a series of blog posts for ChurchWorks Network about what has been by far the most acutely painful time of my ministry life. Though nearly two years have passed, I remember everything like it happened yesterday.

rowell2In the time between my announcement and the last gathering, some of the original people came back into the picture and expressed, with some degree of smug satisfaction, their disapproval of my leadership. These were people whom I’d ministered to as spouses became sick and either died or regressed irreversibly, whose bedsides I’d sat next to, weeping and praying. Their rhetoric stirred up emotions in me that I hadn’t felt in a couple years, emotions I thought were behind me.

So it became clear to me that the church had never fully moved on from what it was, because some people had never moved on. If I were to list the lessons I’ve learned, perhaps the first would be that some people will never change, and it’s better to know as much as possible ahead of time whether they will or not. In retrospect, I have to take responsibility for never asking them that question.

I’ve learned that I was irresponsible in going into a situation without having planned, as much as possible, for how I would provide for my family. Almost from the time I got here, I reacted to changing realities (in terms of the church’s ability to pay me, what kind of job I’d need, raising support, etc.), instead of proactively preparing.

I’ve learned that a dream is only as valuable as the plan for accomplishing it. And I’ve learned that the dream of healthy, deepening relationships with my God, my wife, and my children is of far greater importance.

I’ve learned that, even as the odds were stacked against me, God was shaping me and my ministry style. And I’ve learned that the end result of this chapter of my life does not invalidate who I have become and what I have come to value as a leader and pastor.

I’ve seen the grace of God, in giving a dying congregation five more years to advance His mission. I’ve watched God used a dying church to reach out to and completely, beautifully change the very life trajectory of some very special people. And I have every confidence that God will use our experiences in their lives to impact the churches they engage.

So there is pain, and there is joy. There is frustration, and there is gratitude. There is doubt, and there is faith. There is the end of one chapter, and there is the beginning of another, even as it’s fuzzy at the moment.

And above it all is God, Who gives and takes away, Who comforts and frustrates, Whose ways are not my ways.

I trust Him.

Article by Mike Rowell

@redhedrev

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Symptoms of the Heart – Part 3

It is no secret that people with high blood pressure have a greater chance of heart attack, stroke and kidney failure compared to those with regulated blood pressure. However, high blood pressure is not the problem itself but a symptom of an even larger problem dealing with the heart. According to one medical health guide, symptoms of this chronic condition are not easily detected giving it the name, “the silent killer.” There are several factors that can be attributed to high blood pressure including obesity, high sodium intake, alcohol consumption and the use of certain drugs; however, many with high blood pressure don’t know it until their blood pressure is measured. Only then can a proper diagnosis be made to correct the problem.

Unlike high blood pressure, it does not take a licensed professional to diagnose the symptoms of an insufferable heart. We all know someone who seems impossible to get along with because of the negative disposition of his or her character. We often speak to them with caution because we don’t know if their response will be pleasant or hateful. These are the people who have a bad outlook in life and usually bring us down with their overall pessimistic attitude. The Bible says “A fool’s anger is known at once, but a prudent man conceals dishonor” (Proverbs 12:16).

We are instructed to “not let the sun go down on our anger” (Ephesians 4:26). The symptoms of anger are evident in nature and reveal the character of a sinful heart. Anger becomes sinful when it is not restrained and can result in devastation and produce permanent damage. The Bible tells us that anger is a deed of the flesh and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). James, half-brother of Jesus, writes, “For the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

But the Bible has a solution for those who are angry and have little or no joy; the answer can be found in Jesus. He has come that we may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10). Jesus came to this world for the forgiveness of sin; the most humble act of kindness ever shown to the world, not because we deserved it, but because He loved us so much that He was willing to die on our behalf so our sin can be pardoned. This is the greatest thing anyone has ever done for us. Rather than being angry, we can transfer our anger into love and be joyful in all things by “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). It is for this reason alone that we can be joyful; Jesus paid it all.

If you have an angry heart or struggle with anger, allow me to urge you to seek the Savior. By confessing your sin to God and turning from them, the Bible says “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), for, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). By turning from sin and turning toward Christ, He will give you a new heart with new desires. For more information on how to have joy in Christ contact michael@michaelwaits.com

Article by Michael Waits

@michaelwaits

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