Should you stay, or should you go?
This is the question we pondered together in Part One. Where are you at with it today?
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by circumstances. Even as I write this, I am fatigued by some things happening in my own circle – and yet I hear off in another room the song “Mighty to Save” playing. It’s as if there’s a battle happening inside of me for my focus.
Consider what your prayer life reveals about this other clash:
If there was a transcript of your prayers for the last month, would it have recorded you begging God to show you how to dwell with Him “no matter what,” or would it be a list of the pressures you face in life and how you want Him to fix them?
We can easily forget about the one thing that matters most.
I was talking with a friend recently who shared a conflict she and her husband faced after they were married years ago. She was caught completely off guard by something she hadn’t seen in him, to which he replied, “Honey, you married all of me. Not just the parts of me you knew about.” The relationship between you and your church is similar, for you will find things out about each other as you get to know one another that will require a similar revelation – they got into a relationship with all of you, and you got into a relationship with all of them.
Using the same metaphor, there will be times when a relationship (including a church relationship) has abuse in it. It’s often difficult to tell if that’s the case in ministry, or if you’re merely going through a challenge. So honestly – what constitutes abuse? Is it when you don’t get what you want? Is it when they promised you a certain type of job and you are now doing a different job? Is it when imperfect people act like imperfect people?
How do you endure as an act of worship?
When is it appropriate to consider a transition out?
Taking a cue from Jesus on what real worship looks like, here are two check marks that provide context:
- Truth: Is the Bible still at the core of the church? Be careful if you answer no, because when you’re at odds with the leadership above you it will be hard to receive even the pure teaching of God through their lips. It’s quite possible that the Word of God hasn’t gone anywhere. On the other hand, if it does seem to be missing with no hope of return, it’s likely time to either start packing your bags or understand your role as a missionary in that situation.1 Timothy 4:3-5 explains: “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.”
- Spirit: Are people willing to slow down and submit themselves to the Holy Spirit? Maybe they’ve been haphazard at this, but still trying. Look for any sign of this, for God desires to do great things in us before He does great things through us. Try to sit down with people you’re at odds with and pray, “God, we need you to lead us. We right now commit to follow you and not our own feelings. Show us what you want to do in between us, and empower us to do it.” Most people know Jesus said “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” What most people don’t realize is that’s right in the middle of a passage on conflict resolution.
If those two check marks are in place, you will be able to better understand your circumstances in the appropriate Light. You will develop a sense of calling, without which you can’t endure through anything tough. You will find yourself worshiping God more honestly and wholeheartedly.
I asked some friends for their wisdom on this. Click here for Part 3 and their insights (or reread Part 1).
For now, what do you think?
- When is a situation “abuse” versus realizing that you married “all” of your church?
- What are biblical and non-biblical reasons you’ve found yourself considering in the midst of the clash?
- How do you personally serve… when you don’t feel like it, but you know God has asked you to?