The Clash made those lyrics famous in the 1980’s. The question the song proposes is one you may find yourself asking these days, creating your own kind of internal clash. Whether you’re paid or a volunteer in your church, you may be pondering what the lyrics suggest: “If I go there will be trouble… and if I stay it will be double.” Here’s what that clash tends to look like, broken down:
- Church people of all ages that you love: It hurts you to think of not being around adults and students you’ve formed great relationships with. On the other hand, it hurts you to stay and continue to see what’s happening in/to them.
- Efforts you began: You’re hoping to finish some of the great ideas that once brought you life. On the other hand, the roadblocks you’re currently experiencing are making even these things choke the life out of you.
- Concern for your family: There are relationships and a rhythm your household has established where you’re at. On the other hand, you may be able to rest that if you go somewhere else that won’t upset that. .
- The God stuff:You didn’t just step into this because you felt like it. God called you into it, so you shouldn’t leave unless He calls you out of it. On the other hand, can you really stay without having a clear sense of what He wants you to do?
Often we come to a clash when things become much harder than what we ever imagined they would be. I’ve been there myself more times that I ever thought possible. In these moments, we have to remember what it means to do what Jesus said – deny yourself, carry your cross and follow Him. This video offers a few thoughts I’d share with you on that. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uwen8moJnSg God can certainly do amazing things if you stay. He can likewise do amazing things if you go. The catch is as I share each of those truths, pay attention to which one you’re thankful I said. That’s your filter, and you’re going to have to overcome that in order to more objectively interpret God… because He may be guiding you the other way. How do you serve in the middle of this clash? Here are a few general guidelines:
- Don’t let circumstances call you in or out of ministry. Situations eventually change, and the benefit of not jumping ship is you at least know what you’re dealing with. You wouldn’t figure that out somewhere else for a year or two, as you’d eventually find out the only perfect church is in heaven. Everything on earth is at best a shadow of that ultimate reality.
- Do love the next person who walks in front of you, whomever that is. You may not get the same grace you give out to others. It’s okay… that’s actually what real grace is, isn’t it?
- Don’t overlook a deeper ministry within your ministry. You may have only signed up for “x,” but God really signed you up for “y.” In one church I served in I thought I was there to be a youth pastor. When the senior pastor left a year later, I realized I was really there to help that church remember what was most important and push through a defining moment. Your true calling at the church you’re in may be to help people remember what commitment really looks like when everything is against them – who can’t relate to that?
- Do form a small prayer group of people who see your blind spots. They are not not be the voice of God (so take whatever they say with a grain of salt), but will help you hear the voice of God (so take whatever they say with a strain of prayer).
One of the greatest distractions to following Jesus is “a sense of peace.” We’ve somehow adopted this idea that unless we feel at ease with something, God doesn’t want us to do it. You may want to reread the Scriptures, for there are plenty of people in its pages who did things that they weren’t at all comfortable with. It exhausted them physically, chewed them up emotionally and pushed them into desperate places spiritually. These are the “heroes” Hebrews 11 gushes on and on about. In our culture, we can ignore all of that and go somewhere else that’s more “fruitful.” We can cite study after study about the detriment of a bad work environment and the benefits of finding something new. We can find “signs” in the next song lyric that comes on the radio, assuming it’s God’s way of telling us what we already want Him to say. Have fun with that. I’m not suggesting you ignore those things completely, but I am pointing out that Jesus did say there is something more important that will help you to put those gauges into a healthier context. Namely:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)
Read more on “Fostering the Church.”
In the meantime, what thoughts or questions does this raise for you?